Welborn up against it on huge L.A showcase, writes Daniel Herbert
Welborn has the toughest of challenges against unified world champ Hurd
BACK in 2016 Jason
Welborn lost two fights in a row to domestic opposition in journeyman William Warburton and Midands Area champion Craig Cunningham.
Now, just over two years later, the man from Tividale in the West Midlands is fighting in the chief support of the Wilder-fury fight at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
He starts a massive underdog against WBA/IBF super-welterweight champion
Jarrett Hurd, but just securing this chance represents a remarkable career turnaround for the man whose Twitter page not only keeps his followers updated on his boxing activities but also advertises his skip hire business.
Welborn, 32, has run up five straight wins, which included snapping the unbeaten record of prospect Marcus Morrison then twice outpointing touted Tommy Langford in British middleweight title fights.
That he must now descend from 160lbs to 154 is a problem, but not an insurmountable one for a man who has contested the British title down at welterweight (147lbs). That 2013 fight saw him stopped in seven by Frankie Gavin, and the following year a British title crack at super-welter brought a six-round, body-shot knockout by Liam Smith – so Welborn’s punch resistance at top level is questionable. His other inside the distance loss was a three-round KO by Tyan Booth at middleweight in only his second pro outing, but it should be noted Jason did last the 10-round distance against noted puncher Matthew Macklin in 2015. And he showed admirable fortitude to survive both a secondround knockdown en route to outpointing Morrison over 10 rounds and then a perforated eardrum in the first Langford fight. Both that and the equally exciting rematch (in September, his most recent outing) ended in a split decision with Welborn triumphing both times by the
closest possible margin: one point on two cards.
While he did have Langford on the deck, only seven early wins from 24 (against six defeats) underlines Welborn’s lack of power; something that will prove much more problematic at world level against a fighter of Hurd’s calibre.
The Maryland man turned pro with little fanfare but has broken through over the last two years. He stopped talented but chinny Tony Harrison in nine rounds to become IBF champ, hammered experienced Austin Trout into 10th-round retirement to retain, and then climbed all over Erislandy Lara for a split but deserved points victory that brought him the WBA 154lbs belt.
Lara’s mobile southpaw skills once almost beat Canelo Alvarez, but Hurd took the fight to him throughout and dropped him in the last to seal a win far more notable than anything Welborn has managed.
Hurd, 6ft 1in, is huge for the weight and talks of moving up to middleweight with the aim of fighting a Charlo brother. But assuming Hurd hasn’t taken this one lightly, it looks mission impossible for the Englishman with the champion’s exceptional pressure and power clinching victory before halfway in this 12-rounder.
The big LA show should provide good exposure for Putney’s Olympic silver medallist Joe Joyce, who has his seventh
pro fight with a 10-rounder against Joe Hanks.
Joyce, 33, has won all his first six paid outings inside the distance and is starting to move up in class, although Hanks is some way short of world level. The 35-year-old from Newark, New Jersey has won 23 of his 25 fights but lost to the two biggest names on his record: Andy Ruiz stopped him in four rounds for the vacant WBO Inter-continental title in 2013, while Derric Rossy outpointed him (majority decision) over 10 the following year.
Ruiz is best known for losing narrowly to Joe Parker for the WBO belt two years ago, while Rossy was once stopped by Audley Harrison in a Prizefighter tournament at York Hall.
Since relocating to the USA a few months ago to train with Abel Sanchez in Big Bear, California, Joyce has scored a five-round win over Iago Kiladze – who is about the same level as Hanks. Expect Joe, 2ins taller at 6ft 6ins, to wear Hanks down by about the halfway point.
Two other British hopefuls are set for action on the undercard. Big-punching Ilford light-heavyweight Anthony
Yarde, 17-0 (16), boxes a 10-rounder against an opponent yet to be named; while Morecambe featherweight Isaac
Lowe, 15-0-3 (5), faces Lucas Baez over
Argentina’s Baez, 33, has a 34-16-5 ledger with 18 wins inside the distance. He’s unbeaten in his last five, but Lowe has the superior pedigree: he’s held the Commonwealth crown, while drawing twice for the British title and once for the European belt (when his opponent was cut inside four rounds).
Expect the Lancashire traveller’s skills to earn him a clear win on points.
Elsewhere, former multi-weight world champion Robert Guerrero, 33-6-1 (18) but loser of his last three, pointlessly comes out of retirement for a welter eight-rounder against Adam Mate, 28-12 (21). Las Vegas-based Californian southpaw Guerrero, 35, can snap a threefight losing streak against the Hungarian.
Luis Ortiz hopes to remain in the chasing pack at heavyweight with victory over 33-year-old gatekeeper Travis
Kauffman in a 10-rounder. Ortiz is advertised as 39 (some have suggested he’s several years older) yet don’t expect his advancing age to provide much relief for Kauffman, who last year was outhustled by a 44-year-old lefty Amir Mansour. Ortiz is also a southpaw and considerably more skilled. The Cuban isn’t ranked by BN due to failing multiple drug tests, but with the sanctioning bodies far more lenient, expect him to look decent and secure a big fight next year.
THE VERDICT A good payday is all that Welborn is likely to bring back from the City of Angels.
TALE OF THE TAPE JARRETT HURD JASON WELBORN @Swift_jhurd @welborn12 Aug 31, 1990/28 DOB/AGE May 9, 1986/32 Accokeek, MD HOMETOWN Tividale American NATIONALITY English 22-0 (15) RECORD 24-6 (7) Orthodox STANCE Orthodox Sep 29, 2012/22 DEBUT/AGE Dec 12, 2005/19 68 KO PERCENTAGE 23 1/100 ODDS 16/1 HUGE: Hurd is a big superwelterweight and a massive challenge for Welborn
EXCITEMENT: Welborn entertains in close British titleghts with Langford