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Hurd vs Trout: Fight preview and matchup

Jarrett Hurd takes on Austin Trout in what figures to be his toughest challenge to date.

Jarrett Hurd

Deontay Wilder v Gerald Washington Photo by David A. Smith/Getty Images

Record: 20-0 (14 KO) ... Streak: W20 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 6’1" / 76½" ... Age: 27

Thoughts: Jarrett Hurd has just sort of happened. With no big hype, he’s gone from questionable prospect to IBF 154-pound champion in the last two years, and it’s been a lot of fun to watch.

Hurd’s first really notable fight came when he beat Frank Galarza in what was considered something of an upset in 2015 on Showtime. Both were unbeaten, but Galarza had more hype and was supposed to be the A-side of the matchup. It didn’t work out that way. Hurd dominated.

He faced another undefeated prospect, Oscar Molina, and beat him, too, on CBS airwaves in 2016, part of the Thurman-Porter card, another impressive performance.

He beat veteran Jo Jo Dan on Spike last November, in what was really a physical mismatch, as Hurd is a big junior middleweight and Dan is really at best a welterweight.

This year, he got his first crack at a world title, matched in February against Tony Harrison for the vacant IBF belt on FOX. Harrison can fight, but there had been questions about his chin and stamina, and Hurd rallied from early good work by his opponent to score a ninth round TKO.

Hurd seems to me, at 27, to be an ever-improving fighter, someone who is still getting better. That also might mean he still has a ways to go, and as fun as he’s been beating Harrison, Galarza, Molina, and to a lesser extent Jo Jo Dan, those aren’t top of the line opponents, either. He can call himself world champion, yes, but he hasn’t faced a true world level opponent to get there. It’s not a knock on Hurd, it just is what it is.

Hurd has advantages here, notably physically. He’s taller and a bigger puncher than Austin Trout. He’s younger and surely fresher. And the upside of evolving and getting better is that he might be better than he’s ever been going into this fight. Maybe he really has had the best training camp of his career, maybe the steps he’s taken have resulted in him being more than ready for this sort of fight.

But it is new territory, and that can’t be overlooked. Hurd might be a legit top tier fighter, or he might be a flash in the pan with a favorable series of matchups leading him to a level beyond his ability. This is the sort of fight where we find out more about that.

Austin Trout

PBC on Fox Sports 1 - Austin Trout v Joey Hernandez Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Record: 30-3 (17 KO) ... Streak: L1 ... Last 5: 4-1 ... Last 10: 7-3 ... Stance: Southpaw ... Height/Reach: 5'9½" / 72" ... Age: 32

Thoughts: Physically, this one could be tough for Trout, who will be giving up notable height and reach against Hurd. But he’s got the experience Hurd doesn’t have, too, and that could be the biggest factor of all.

Trout’s a tricky fighter, smart and crafty, intelligent, savvy, all those words and more. He’s never been an exciting fighter and probably never will be. You’re not going to get Fight of the Year candidates out of him. But he can be a tough stylistic matchup for just about anyone.

It seems like forever ago that Trout ruined the first serious attempt at making Canelo vs Cotto happen, when he upset Cotto at Madison Square Garden on December 1, 2012, with a helpless Canelo Alvarez and Oscar De La Hoya watching money burn in front of them while Cotto struggled to get much of anything significant going against the southpaw.

Trout didn’t just win that fight, he won it clearly, on Cotto’s turf at MSG, where Miguel had never lost a fight, against a bigger star who was worth a lot more money. That’s not easy to do in boxing, for various reasons. But he did it.

Instead, Trout got Canelo, and lost to him at the Alamodome in April 2013. He followed that fight, which was competitive, with a stylistic nightmare against fellow savvy lefty Erislandy Lara, who dominated the fight in Brooklyn.

But Trout got back at it, winning four straight fights in 2014-15, albeit against lesser opposition, before a May 2016 defeat against Jermall Charlo in a fight that was plenty close, which I actually had a draw.

Trout isn’t as good as he was five years ago, but he’s still a good fighter, and could be major trouble for someone who has never really been at the top level of the sport before. He’s not old, he’s not washed, and he gave a bigger, harder punching guy plenty of trouble in his last outing. It’s a similar matchup here.

Matchup Grade: B. I like Trout more than some might, admittedly, and think he’s still a very tough opponent, especially for someone on the rise like Hurd. I think this is a good, tough fight for Hurd. If he wins, then he belongs in the upper echelon at 154. If he doesn’t, well, Trout hangs around even longer, which has already been quite an achievement for someone that the big promoters in boxing didn’t really want anything to do with earlier in his career.

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