Sometimes in boxing the saying goes “a good big man beats a good little man” and while this most often refers to heavyweight boxing I think the saying is fairly applicable after watching Erislandy Lara 25 (14 KOs)-3 (0 KOs)-2 take the first real loss of his career facing unbeaten American Jarrett Hurd 22 (15 KOs)-0-0.

From when the fight was announced it was clear to most that this was going to be decided on whether Lara had the power and stamina to keep Hurd honest. Hurd who isn’t the most technical fighter has been clipped numerous times in his career, but it is his immense physical size that has been too much for fighters who really are better than him in a boxing skill sense, and you could see the skill gap in the opening round. Lara seemed to catch Hurd a little off guard early on as he was eating left hands, but he was slowly getting used to the sharpness of Lara, and by as early as the second round you could begin to the signs of the tide turning. Lara seemed unable to fully gain Hurd’s respect and began using his legs to get out of range, but you got the sense that Lara was trying to push a boulder up a hill, and he was really working to just try and not let Hurd overwhelm him. From about the 4th I thought Lara was going to get stopped relatively quickly and decisively as he appeared to be gassing but it was almost at this point that Lara accepted that he wasn’t going to win this the typical Cuban way, and started doing what we’ve barely ever seen Lara do before, try and hold his own on the inside.

While Lara was losing many of the rounds he did have his moments, the most notable being a lovely left uppercut when Hurd was coming in, he may regret not following the shot up because it did momentarily stiffen Hurd’s legs. Praise has to be given to Hurd however for doing what he does best, walking forward catching shots on the gloves and slowly breaking the opponent down. I lost count of the amount of times that Hurd would land flush left hooks to the body of Lara which definitely went some way to take the movement away.

Coming into the last round I had Hurd well ahead and he looked on his way to a wide unanimous decision, but from early in the round it appeared that Lara was wilting quickly. Late on Hurd landed a lovely left hook which dropped the Cuban and it turned out that this knockdown would become pivotal in the result.

The fight was scored a split decision win for Hurd. I thought it was quite a bit wider for Hurd but the right man got the decision in the end. Like Golovkin, it looks to be if you can’t hurt Hurd you’re going to be in for a long night, because he is so physically strong on the inside you’re going to have to make him think twice before he comes in. Hurd is now the unified WBA and IBF Light- Middleweight champion and will hopefully look to face WBC title holder Jermell Charlo, or the winner of the WBO title between Saddam Ali and Liam Smith.

As for Lara, at 34 it’s clear that he can still mix it at world level, but being in such a hard fight and having done so much in his career previously there is a sense of what does he have left to prove. There are still fights out there for him, but now being without a belt there is a worry that there will be few to jump to face the tricky Cuban. One can hope that being in such an engrossing fight will only do him well for future paydays.

On the undercard James Degale 24 (14 KOs)-2 (0 KOs)-1 avenged his loss to Caleb Truax 29 (18 KOs)-4 (2 KOs)-2 to win back his IBF Super-Middleweight title in a unanimous points decision victory, and Julian Williams 25 (15 KOs)-1 (1 KO)-1 won a majority decision against Nathanial Gallimore 20 (17 KOs)-2 (0 KOs)-1.

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