Hurd wins IBF title; Breazeale KOs Ugonoh

R.L. Woodson

Cinephile, audiophile, and avid sports fan. I am the creator and host of the Pay Me No Mind sports and entertainment podcast found on TalkLoudRadio.
I podcast and write to cope with my continuing struggle to play guitar.

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA – Top super welterweight contenders Tony Harrison and Jarrett Hurd only found out their Feb. 25th bout – the co-main event with Deontay Wilder versus Gerald Washington – was going to be for the vacant IBF world title about 10 days prior to the fight. This resulted from Jermall Charlo’s recent announcement that he was moving to the middleweight division. A world title became a kicker for two heavy-handed boxers who were already entering the fight as an eliminator bout. Furthermore, one-loss Harrison could ill afford a second loss in one of boxing’s most talent laden divisions.

The two fighters spent the bulk of the first round feeling one another out, touching each other with single and double jabs. Hurd (20-0, 14 KOs) of Accokeek, Maryland walked towards his opponent feinting an unusual amount with his left hand lowered, and his right hand resting firmly below his chin. Harrison (24-2, 20 KOs), a 26-year old from Detroit, Michigan, exerted less energy remaining more flat-footed working behind his jab.

Harrison’s more controlled stance and activity allowed him to begin landing his right hand more often as Hurd stepped in and out with his jabs. Per CompuBox Harrison connected with 66 punches in rounds two through five, with Hurd landing 45 shots over the same rounds.

In round three Hurd’s attack resembled the style seen in his recent bouts, but Harrison continued to work well while backing up and circling to his left. Harrison closed out round three with a pair of left hooks that represented his best punches over the first quarter of the fight.

Harrison continued boxing beautifully in round four, fighting off his back foot while Hurd looked like his game plan was to land one big shot. CompuBox scored one more punch landed for Harrison in the round, but all three judges gave the edge to Hurd.

Hurd opened round five busier throwing some combinations off his feints. A Hurd right uppercut finally found its mark and rocked Harrison in the final seconds of the round, and despite great work from Harrison throughout the round all judges again scored the round in favor of the Virginia native.

Harrison responded to Hurd’s momentum in round six by scoring with several power punches through the first two minutes of action. However, in the subsequent round Hurd’s offense finally kicked in to gear as Harrison’s footwork and movement dropped off significantly.

Hurd continued to pick up the power punching in round eight including a right uppercut in the final minute that briefly wobbled Harrison. By round nine Harrison barely looked like the fighter seen through the first third of scheduled 12 round fight. Harrison’s sharpness from the first half of the fight quickly disappeared at the top of the fight’s second half, and by round nine the Detroit native’s punches lacked real steam. Jarrett confidently moved into the range he spent the first six rounds trying to find, and once he saw his opening he landed a straight right hand that floored the faded Harrison.

After beating the count, Harrison inexplicably allowed his mouth guard to fall out of his mouth and tumble down to the canvas as the referee tried to confirm he was good to continue fighting. In response, referee Jim Korb decided to halt the fight at 2:24. Hurd dropped to both knees in the center of the ring relieved to capture his first world title.

In winning the bout Hurd overcame Harrison’s early advantage to outland Harrison 98-41 in power punches over the final five rounds.

The new IBF world super welterweight champion explained the reason for his uncharacteristic start to the bout.

“We wanted to take our time with him, because Harrison can box and move. But every time he fights he wears down toward the end.
“During the sixth round, he caught me with a good shot inside my left eye. But I managed to fight through it and get the win.
“It feels great to be a champion. I’ve never had a feeling this great before. It’s pure Accokeek power. I can finally pull my pants up now. My pants were falling down, but I finally got my belt.”

Dominic Breazeale (18-1, 16 KOs) vs Izuagbe Ugonoh (17-1, 14 KOs) : Breazeale entered this bout needing a great performance to get his career back on track following his knock out loss to IBF world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua in June of 2016. Breazeale took a great deal of punishment over the fight’s seven rounds. Ugonoh entered the fight on a noteworthy streak of five consecutive stoppage wins – all of those fights occurred in New Zealand.

Ugonoh went to work quickly popping his double jab to take advantage Breazeale’s slower start. Ugonoh also attacked Breazeale’s body with both hands and landed the round’s best power punches.

Breazeale spent the round walking Ugonoh down but looked like his current weight prohibited him from beating his opponent to the punch.

Ugonoh’s early fight exuberance finally caught up to him in round three as Breazeale caught him for the fight’s first knock down. While under duress Ugonoh connected with a right hand that hurt Breazeale badly, and the California fell into Ugonoh and after a few steps backwards, both men went to the ground. The referee didn’t award either man with a knock down, but Breazeale recovered shortly afterwards to land a body shot to Ugonoh’s kidney area that had the younger fighter in bad shape as the round ended.

Breazeale stalked Ugonoh for the first part of the round as Ugonoh bought himself time to recover from the preceding round’s body shot. Once Ugonoh recharged he knocked Breazeale down with a big flurry that included a right hand that landed behind Breazeale’s left ear lobe. Breazeale displayed his grit by surviving until the bell.

Breazeale came out surprisingly refreshed in round five, and he resumed applying pressure to Ugonoh. He even connected with a right hand upstairs that knocked Ugonoh down for the second time. Just a few moments later Breazeale seized the same kind of moment he squandered back in round three, and the former title challenger blasted the hurt Ugonoh with a combination that knocked Ugonoh out for good.

The technical knockout victory officially came after :50 in round five. Ugonoh doubled Breazeale in total power punches landed per CompuBox – 72 to 34.

Breazeale realized that Ugonoh’s fast start created an early deficit for him but said, “It took a little for me to find my pace, but eventually I found my Rhythm. Izu came in in great shape and with guns a blazing. He came at me with some stuff that I wasn’t expecting. Him being the lighter guy I wasn’t really expecting the power he possessed.

“Coming off the loss to Joshua, this win puts me right back in there. This is what I’ve always asked for. My team does an incredible job of getting me any fight I ask for, and I wanted to fight an undefeated guy like Izu. He’s a big, strong, athletic guy.

“Tonight the story was about me having the heart of a lion, getting knocked down, but getting right back up to finish this fight.”

Ugonoh credited Breazeale’s resilience to his experience fighting Joshua and explained his first loss with, “Honestly, I just got tired. I gave him what I had and then I got tired. When he came back at me I wasn’t able to keep up and finish through on my game plan.

“The plan was to really use my double jab, and I’m not making any excuses. This is the fight game. This was a great opportunity for me, a big step up, and I was hoping to get it done. I didn’t, but that is part of sports. I’m not used to losing, but that time came today. I’m still a dangerous man to fight.”

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R.L. Woodson

Cinephile, audiophile, and avid sports fan. I am the creator and host of the Pay Me No Mind sports and entertainment podcast found on TalkLoudRadio. I podcast and write to cope with my continuing struggle to play guitar.

R.L. Woodson

Cinephile, audiophile, and avid sports fan. I am the creator and host of the Pay Me No Mind sports and entertainment podcast found on TalkLoudRadio. I podcast and write to cope with my continuing struggle to play guitar.

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