Saturday night, PBC presents a triple-header live on Fox headlined by Jarrett Hurd (23-0; 16 KO) defending his IBF and WBA 154 lbs. Light Middleweight titles against Julian Williams (26-1-1(1); 16 KO). PBC on Fox Hurd vs. Williams takes place this Saturday, May 11 and airs live on Fox with a fight time of 8:00 p.m. ET.
- Harrison/Trout/Lara - In a period of 14 months, Hurd rocketed up the Light Middleweight rankings with a series of increasingly impressive wins: first Tony Harrison, then Austin Trout, then Erislandy Lara. The Lara win was particularly significant as Hurd became just the third man to defeat the former Olympian, joining Paul Williams and Canelo on that list. With those wins, he claimed the #1 ranking in the division.
- Slow 2018 - After the Lara win, Hurd took most of 2018 off for shoulder surgery. He came back in December and looked... OK. Just OK. He had troubles in the early going against the overmatched Jason Welborn, but turned up the heat in the 4th and got the win. It was a needed tune-up, and Hurd got the job done, but left questions about exactly where he stands now. This is his first fight since.
- Late fight grinder - Hurd is one of those fighters who beats people up and wears them down. As the fight progresses, he gets better while his opponent gets worse. You have a shot against him early (as Welborn tried to exploit) but as things progress, he uses his somewhat raw and physical style to just hurt opponents, often ending things late. Simply put: you don’t want to be in the championship rounds against Jarrett Hurd.
- Charlo? - The fight being hyped after that return match was Hurd vs. Jermell Charlo. But Charlo then dropped a pretty horrible decision against Tony Harrison, derailing those plans. Now Charlo has to finish things up with Harrison, and his undefeated record is forever gone. Certainly some of the luster of a Hurd vs. Charlo match-up is gone.
- Try #2 - Williams has steadily made his way up in the sport, culminating in a world title shot against Jermall Charlo in 2016. He lost, and is just 4-0 since. Best win of those 4 came against Ishe Smith, which, frankly, isn’t that great of a win. He needs this win - he’s not likely to get shot #3.
- ShoBox alum - Much of Williams’s rise came in the ShoBox series, where he looked at times like an interesting prospect. He had some nice performances - nothing earth-shattering, but solid. Those are what brought him to the next level and the Charlo fight. And again, they were good. But not GREAT, and certainly not as impactful as Hurd’s ShoBox time.
- Defense against power? - Power was the difference maker in the Charlo fight, as Williams was dropped in the 2nd, fought back admirably, then was put away in the 5th. The story of that fight was pretty straight-forward - as long as Williams avoided Charlo’s power, he was doing good. But he only could for so long and once he got hit hard, things went south fast.
- #8 ranked - He sits in the Ring top 10, down at #8, which is certainly respectable.
What else is on the card?
- Mario Barrios (23-0; 15 KO) vs. Juan Jose Velasco (20-1; 12 KO) - Barrios is a 23 year old hyped prospect now fighting in the Welterweight division. He has moved up to this division over time, and in doing so, some of his hype has left him. He’s been matched pretty easily so far, and this time is no different, as Velasco comes in off a TKO loss to Regis Prograis, and fights for just the 4th time outside of Argentina here.
- Matt Korobov (28-2; 14 KO) vs. Immanuwel Aleem (18-1-1, 11 KO) - At 36 years old, Korobov has been in there with a number of good fighters. He comes in off a short-notice loss to Jermall Charlo in a good fight where he turned in a solid performance. Aleem had a bad 2017 loss to Huge Centeno Jr. and is just 1-0 since. Both are really in need of a win here, as the loser is unlikely to get another shot on a card of this size anytime soon.
If it sounds like I’m under-selling Williams here, well, I am. This fight seems pretty straight-forward. Williams will start strong (largely because Hurd starts slow), but doesn’t have the power to end things in those early rounds. Hurd will pick up the pace around the 4th, start hurting Williams, and eventually find the punch that puts him down and out. So this is more of a chance to see Hurd then to see a truly competitive match.
Prediction: Jarrett Hurd, KO Round 8