Jarrett Hurd drops Erislandy Lara in waning seconds to unify world titles in split decision victory

Jarrett Hurd told the world he would bring the fight to Erislandy Lara.

He backed up his words and much more Saturday at Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas.

Hurd (22-0, 15 KO's), who was already the IBF junior middleweight champion, added two more belts to his collection Saturday, the WBA, and IBO straps, knocking down Lara late in the 12th round en-route to a split decision victory.

One judged scored the bout 114-113 for Lara, but two others had it 114-113 for Hurd. FightNights.com scored the fight 116-111 for Hurd.

His last two fights have been the most significant wins on his resume to date, a 10th round TKO of Austin Trout, and now a huge win over Lara, who has been nearly untouchable over the years.

The 27-year-old hailing from Accokeek, Maryland, not only is a world champion, but he is also setting himself up for a path to being recognized as one of the top pound-for-pound boxers in the sport.

Hurd certainly thinks so.

"I am number one baby," Hurd said after the fight. "I am the best in the world right now."

Jermell Charlo will likely have to say something about that. The 2017 FightNights.com's 2017 Fighter of the Year is coming off two electrifying knockouts of Charles Hatley and Erickson Lubin. That fight has the potential of being an instant classic.

The first round went as expected. Lara controlled the outside of the ring, while Hurd came forward looking to connect on hard punches.

The second round, though, was a big one for the new champion. Hurd cut off the ring effectively and his pivotal weapon throughout the night was his uppercut on the inside, and Lara continuously walked into it.

"It's my favorite shot," Hurd added. "At the beginning of my career, I was throwing it a lot and kinda got away from it.

Lara (25-3-2, 14 KO's), 27, the Cuba-born, Houston based slickster, had a good sixth round as Hurd decided to take a breather. Lara connected with a sharp straight left hand. However, Hurd was never bothered by any of his punches, and kept constant pressure -- the same kind of pressure that former titlist Austin Trout succumbed to last October.

We asked Hurd what was the most difficult part of Lara's style.

"His straight left hand," he responded. "I ain't gonna lie, Lara's got some good pop."

As a result of the successful sixth round, Lara gained more confidence heading into the seventh and found success with quick left hands to the body, and combinations to the head.

By the 12th round, Lara's right eye was nearly swollen shut from taking punches from the much bigger man. And with approximately 15 seconds remaining in the fight, Hurd landed his best punch of the night, a big left hook that sent Lara to the floor.

"It was a tough one, but I went out there and did exactly what I said I was going to do -- fight all 12 rounds and get the victory," said Hurd.

"I feel like I was in control the whole fight, applying the pressure. I don't think it had anything to do with [Lara's] age. I think it was me and the gameplan we had to apply the pressure."

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