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Jarrett Hurd talks return, new trainer, loss to Julian Williams, and more

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The former 154-pound titleholder is determined to come back strong in 2020.

Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME

It seemed clear to me, some sting still remains in Jarrett Hurd, he hasn’t bounced all the way back from his loss to Julian Williams, which he admitted on Wednesday afternoon might well be the best thing that has happened to him.

He looked different than you recall him; he lost that blonde frosting atop his head which was a trademark. Another trademark is, though, still present — Hurd is still a big sonuvagun, with a frame you’d swear couldn’t get down to 154.

But he will, he said at the press conference to hype the Jan. 25 card at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, a slate topped by a Danny Garcia welterweight scrap against underdog bomber Ivan Redkach. Hurd is staying at 154 pounds, because he’s got business to take care of, which would include toeing the line against Julian “J Rock” Williams, and also getting a crack at Jermell Charlo and/or Tony Harrison. (I think he’d prefer Charlo, as he reminded me that he and the twin had beefed previously.)

Garcia (35-2; age 31) and his dad Angel were both in light spirits, seeming happy to be back in the mix, even though Danny thought he’d be fighting a Manny Pacquiao or Errol Spence next. The 23-4-1 Redkach, from Ukraine, spoke Russian, except when he said he would “just knock him out” when asked for a prediction.

And back to Hurd, age 29; he told me he’s right now about 180 pounds, and yes, for those curious, he did think hard and fairly long about jumping to 160.

The media, mostly videographers these days, gathered to check out the talent, which included Hurd’s foe, Francisco Santana (25-7-1; has lost three of last four), as well as junior featherweight Stephen Fulton (17-0; age 25), the Philly contender, and his dance partner, Arnold Khegai (16-0-1; age 27), who is promoted by Dmitriy Salita.

Hurd’s stint at the mic was probably the most compelling, because you could tell he was feeling some feels.

“This is my first time doing interviews since the fight with Julian Williams. I may spend a little time up here,” he said, and then referred to that first loss, which was in his fifth defense, and in his home zone. Not only did I lose that night, but I also lost my trainer and my gym home.”

Hurd related that he was on vacation the loss to Williams, and was told to check out social media.

It was my coach, he was bad mouthing me,” Hurd continued.

This was a family-type matter, he said, so he went to talk to Ernesto Rodriguez.

“You can continue to work with us, we family, we should be able to work through this,” he said he told Rodriguez. The trainer said no thanks, because he didn’t care for some additions to the team.

Now Hurd felt hurt and adrift. He knew he wasn’t going to be mentally right to rematch “J Rock” right away in December. So he talked to people, talked to Al Haymon, and Haymon said you look out for you. He edged forward, found a new trainer, Kay Koroma — they’ve been working together in Colorado — and oh yeah, he cut off that hair. Bye-bye, gold mohawk.

“The change was great for me,” said Hurd, who didn’t realize what he didn’t know. “It’s showing me that I have a lot more to grow, to become a better fighter.”

And so he will stay at 154? “I will not be moving up to 160. I’m looking forward to regaining the old titles.”

Brian Custer presided over the presser, sharp and smooth as ever. He asked Hurd about not going right to that rematch. Hurd told Custer that he wasn’t in the gym enough after the loss, he was still hunting for a coach, so he knew it wouldn’t be prudent. It was a “matter of not having enough time to prepare for a rematch.”

Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME

He didn’t overlook Williams, he shared. “No excuse, man, ‘J Rock’ was the better man that night,” he said. But yes, he did learn from that experience; next time, he’d do less media, not try to please people more so because of that home game setup.

Hurd handled media at Barclays patiently and with grace. He was asked more about that split with Rodriguez, and he didn’t bristle. He wants to look forward, but I think he’s still processing that divorce. He didn’t have too hard of a time losing weight for the Williams fight, and was surprised to hear chatter to that effect. I asked, was he partying too much? No, he told me, nothing ever interfered with training.

Oh yes, he wants another go with Williams, it is clear.

“I wouldn’t feel like I proved to myself that I was the better man” if he left 154 now, he said. 18 months or two years years, then maybe he’ll do middleweight. But wait, 160, Canelo, major league payday — was that a heavy temptation? Yes it was, he said. Unify, then jump to 160 for a mega fight, that was the rough plan. Williams and fate interceded. “I feel like I was right there,” on the cusp of major league wins and unifications and super fights.

He went into the Williams fight thinking he’d never lose. No, not cocky, just sure of his skill set and desire. Hurd thinks he was 50% at peak for the “J Rock,” he hadn’t prepped the right way. He and the trainer had been drifting, in retrospect, he told me.

And losing, it hurt. He felt low, and it took a spell to reset properly. Now, working with Karoma, he is buoyant about the new partnership. Footwork, he didn’t know the import of it, he relayed to me. Perhaps we’ll see more movement from him from now, but he said he will still be a fan-friendly fighter; but smarter, he’ll learn from the lesson, not let his guard down, not be deterred from training with savage zeal.

Sounds like the loss was maybe good for him?

“I think it was the best thing for me,” Hurd said. “I was comfortable; I was comfortable. This change was so great for me, man. It opened my eyes to a lot. Jan. 25, I don’t think the fight’s gonna go all the way. Not sure the round, but me by TKO!”