Getting Ready for Hurd vs. Harrison: An Interview with “Swift” Jarrett Hurd.
By Eric Lunger
Next Saturday night at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama, “Swift” Jarrett Hurd (19-0, 13 KO’s) will face Tony Harrison (24-1, 20KO’s) in aSuper Welterweight IBF title eliminator bout. Scheduled as the co-main event on the Wilder vs. Washington PBC card on FOX, this is Hurd’s biggest test and his biggest opportunity. Hailing from Accokeek, Maryland, Hurd began boxing at age 15, turned pro at 19, and has his sights set on a world title this year. An exciting and dynamic fighter, Jarrett Hurd is also a serious student of the sport.
Yesterday, in an exclusive interview with boxinginsider.com, Jarrett and his long time trainer, Ernesto Rodriguez, looked back on Jarrett’s last three fights and looked forward to the Tony Harrison show down. Here’s what Jarrett and Ernesto had to say:
Boxinginsider.com: The Frank Galarza fight in November of 2015 was your first ten rounder – you caught Galarza with two really huge uppercuts. Did you all expect him to be vulnerable to that punch or was that a mid-fight adjustment?
Jarrett Hurd: Well, it’s really the way we threw the upper cut. Galarza was used to the basic jab and, right after, the right hand, and after that, the hook. We tried to switch it up, after the jab, or we may lead with the right hand, and bring the uppercut underneath. So, it was the way we switched up the combination. He maybe shoots his left hand up to block the first right, but I come up underneath with the uppercut, and it catches him off guard every time.
Boxing Insider: Your next big fight was Oscar Molina on the Keith Thurman vs. Shawn Porter undercard in June of 2016. Would you characterize that as your breakout fight? How do you see that in your progression?
JH: I would say that Frank Galarza was my breakout fight, but the Oscar Molina fight was the icing on the cake, letting the people know I was the real deal. The Molina fight was [important for] not only the performance I put on, but it was on one of the biggest cards of 2016, Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter – I was on the big stage, under the big lights, opening up for those guys. And the performance I put on let everyone know I was ready for the big time.
Boxing Insider: Did you take any lessons away from the Molina fight, going ten rounds with a former Olympian and a guy who was 13-0 at the time?
JH: Yes, most definitely. We knew the first couple of rounds were going to be competitive because Molina was an Olympian. Going in into the fight, I wanted to work off the jab – that’s what my trainer taught me – we wanted to beat him from the outside. The fight would have been more technical that way. So, going into the fourth round, we wanted to make it a closer fight. Many guys think, because I am tall and rangy that I don’t have a good inside game, but now they know. I switched the game plan up into close quarters and showed him a whole different style.
From that fight I learned, basically, to adjust and switch a game plan between fights and during fights.
Boxing Insider: Did you think you were going to get a stoppage during the tenth round? What were your emotions like when the referee stopped the bout?
JH: You know, he survived the whole fight, so going into the tenth I didn’t really think I was going to stop him. I knew it was the last round and I wanted to pick it up. In the process of picking up [the pace] I got the stoppage. Not only did I fight a great fight throughout the ten rounds, I actually closed the show, so that was a plus for me.
Boxing Insider: I was in Philly for the Jo Jo Dan fight this past November; how would you evaluate your performance in that bout?
JH: Out of my three ten-round fights, I felt that Jo Jo Dan was not my best performance. It wasn’t because I didn’t have a big uppercut or a highlight knockdown, or anything like that, it was I think that I allowed myself to perform at his level. You know, because he didn’t have power and because I wasn’t afraid of his power, I kind of got lazy on my defense.
Boxing Insider: Were you prepared for the amount of in-fighting that he did? He wasn’t head-butting, but he did lead with his head and tried to push you around.
JH: Yeah, he was trying to use some veteran tactics. As I said, it was more that his power didn’t do much. I was not watching out for little things. I went to my corner, and they said: hey, you’re not moving your head. He didn’t have much power, but you don’t want to get hit with unnecessary punches. So that’s when I started boxing a little more.
Boxing Insider: That brings us to Tony Harrison, February 25th, the co-main event on FOX and Sky in England, so this is a big arena. But you’ve fought at Barclays in Brooklyn, Hard Rock in Vegas, the Prudential Center in Newark — what’s it like going on this kind of big stage, or are you just focused on your job?
JH: I’m just focused on the job, you know. Maybe the first two fights, Galarza and Molina, it was kind of exciting to get under the lights. But now it’s second nature. When it’s time to go out there and fight, I don’t let it affect me. I get nervous and butterflies, just because I want to go out and perform, not because of the crowd I’m in front of.
Boxing Insider: This next question is for Ernesto. How much do you game plan for a specific opponent, or do you say “here are Jarrett’s strengths, and he has to beat us?” Where is the balance there?
Ernesto Rodriguez: Well, the way I look at it, styles make fights. The style of a fighter will determine the adjustment for us, how easy or how difficult a fight will be and what adjustments we need to make. Like it was for Galarza, I saw a lot of mistakes that he made, like leaning in after throwing his right hand. We worked on that uppercut in the gym, specifically for that counterpunch. We knew that Molina was an Olympian, that he was aggressive and would come in, and that same uppercut he threw in the first round — we worked on that in the gym, you know, and it set the tone. For Jo Jo Dan, a southpaw, we worked on counterpunches. And now, for Tony Harrison, he’s a fighter that fights on his front foot, puts a lot of weight on his punches coming forward. In my opinion, he is tailor-made for counter punches from Jarrett, [we’ll] let him run into punches. A lot of people expect this to be a very difficult fight, but in my opinion, in won’t be.
Boxing Insider: It suits Jarrett’s style, in your view?
ER: Right. He is tailor-made for Jarrett to maneuver and be patient, and to set the tone and stop him.
Boxing Insider: Jarrett, as you said, you’re a big guy, 6’ 1’’ and rangy, what’s the process of making weight like for you?
Jarrett Hurd: Weight is never a problem. As a matter of fact, I’ve always come in under weight. I usually make the weight the day before the weigh-in, and we usually don’t work out the day of the weigh-in.
Boxing Insider: What is it like in that last hour before a bout, when you are back stage with your team? Are you guys getting focused, are you talking, are you loose? What is going through your mind and what’s happening back there?
JH: We are warming up and they [my team] are always in my ear, motivating me. They are telling me, you’ve put in all this work. The phrase we always use is: don’t leave no stones unturned. We feel like we’ve put in all the work we were supposed to in the camp, we did all the things that were necessary, so going out there, we have no doubts, no second guessing. We’ve done everything right. So they [my team] are just motivating me, but also making sure I’m relaxed and ready to go out there and fight.
Ernesto Rodriguez: We always pray before we go out.
Jarrett Hurd: Most definitely, we always say a prayer.
Boxing Insider: Obviously you don’t look past anyone in this business, but what are your goals for the year?
JH: Well, win the title! Every boxer’s dream and I know this year, its coming. When you turn professional, you know, you’ve seen your idols win world titles, and that’s something I want to do. To win world titles and to leave this sport with my health, those are the two things I want to do.