Jarrett Hurd enacts sweeping changes after losing titles, including moving out of his parents' home

Kevin IoleCombat columnist
Yahoo Sports
Jarrett Hurd speaks at a news conference on Dec. 18, 2019, for his upcoming super welterweight fight against Francisco Santana in New York. Hurd will fight Santana on Saturday at Barclays Center. (Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
Jarrett Hurd speaks at a news conference on Dec. 18, 2019, for his upcoming super welterweight fight against Francisco Santana in New York. Hurd will fight Santana on Saturday at Barclays Center. (Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

Jarrett Hurd won 23 consecutive fights, 16 of them by knockout. He won a world title and quickly unified the belts.

He was among the biggest stars in boxing, and he had a back story that people loved. Even as a world champion, Hurd continued to live at home with his parents. He worked with the same trainer he had from the earliest days of his career, and was in some of the most exciting bouts in recent years.

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As good as things looked on the outside, though, Hurd felt differently. Something was missing.

His wasn’t a feel-good story; this was his life, and as good as the results were, he knew he should be better. So when he lost a unanimous decision to Julian Williams in May, Hurd knew it was time to make some tough choices.

“Changes had to be made,” Hurd said. “Sometimes, you come to a point in your life and you know you need to make a choice and that’s where I was.”

After losing to Williams and dropping his IBF-WBA super welterweight titles on May 11, Hurd essentially did a 180. He fired trainer Ernesto Rodriguez and replaced him with Kay Koroma, an assistant coach on the 2016 and 2020 U.S. Olympic boxing teams. He spent much of his time training in altitude for the first time, working with Koroma at the U.S. Olympic training center in Colorado Springs.

He moved out of his parents’ home in suburban Washington, D.C., and found a place of his own, where he now lives with his girlfriend. He vowed to be more active after having fought just once in 2019. He even went so far as to change his hairstyle.

He felt the need to diversify his game and take control of his life, and so he instituted sweeping changes. Even though they essentially came all at once, it wasn’t a rash decision by any means, he insisted.

“I’m one of the biggest guys in that class, and my size and pressure, I was beating everybody with that,” Hurd said. “Eventually, somebody beat me at my own game. I fought Julian Williams and he beat me on the inside. I got beaten up that night, and I didn’t have a Plan B. I didn’t have a way to switch it up. That pressure, fighting on the inside, it’s always in my back pocket. I can pull it out, and use my size.

“But when I needed that Plan B, when I needed to switch up and do something different, I didn’t have it. I don’t want to go into a fight any more with just one mindset. I needed to add to my game and diversify what I am able to do so I can adapt to what I see in there.”

On Saturday at the Barclays Center, he’ll fight Francisco Santana in the first bout he’s had since losing his titles. It’s also the first time he’ll have fought since leaving his parents’ home.

He’s 29 years old, so there is nothing radical about getting a place of his own, but his mom did try to talk him into staying.

“I’d been there for 12 years,” he said. “It was just time for a change. I had been inactive and I had time on my hands and I wanted to kind of shock the system. I feel good about everything. My parents kind of gave me a pep talk and told me I was welcome to stay with them and all of that. They tried to convince me, but they understood.

“It’s the same thing with training at home. My team got me out of the area and I had nothing to focus on but my craft. I think I’m a lot better because of it.”

It’s a process, though, and he knows he’s not going to be a finished product in his first bout with Koroma. But his goal is not to move up to middleweight, but to complete what he refers to as his unfinished business at super welterweight.

There are a number of good fights for him at 154, including the eventual rematch with Williams, who lost his titles last week to Jeison Rosario.

He didn’t take an immediate rematch with Williams, leading some to speculate he was on his way to middleweight. That time may yet come, but he wants to prove he’s the best in the world at 154.

“My goal is to be undisputed at [super welterweight], and I’ve taken the steps I feel I needed to take to help me get to that point,” he said. “I’m very confident I’ve made the right choices, and it’s up to me to show the improvements I’ve made and then go out there and do it.”

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