From Safeway to Showtime: Maryland Boxer’s Journey to World Titles

Several years ago, a young Maryland man had a career decision to make: deli clerk or boxer. On Saturday, he defended his world title for a third time.

Though Jarrett Hurd was never an Olympian or Golden Gloves champ, he has an impeccable 23-0 record as a professional fighter and is the pride and joy of Accokeek, Maryland.

“Well, Accokeek is such a small city and not a lot of people,” he said. “You don’t hear of a lot of talent coming from the area, and for me to be one of the first and only guys from Accokeek to become a world champion, let alone a unified world champion, it speaks volumes.”

The 28-year-old known as “Swift” won his first belt, the vacant IBF light middleweight division, with a ninth round knockout of Tony Harrison in February 2017, then defended it later that year when Austin Trout retired in the 10th round. In his next fight, he took Erislandy Lara’s WBA and IBO belts in a 12-round decision.

But before unifying the 154-pound weight class, Hurd had a different type of job in his community.

“Safeway down in Fort Washington, Maryland,” he said. “I was working there as a deli clerk. I was making sandwiches, frying chicken tenders. Working there gave me a mindset to want more.”

Hurd, who still lives at home, said the real pressure to think about his future came from his mother.

“And I said, ‘So I’m giving you to 25 to choose a profession, and make a success of it, or you got to go,’” Brenda Hurd said.

“She’s like, ‘If you want to do it, Jarrett, I’ll give you three years. If you show me some type of progress in three years, then we can talk,’” he said.

Now with three of four titles around his waist, Hurd works hard to inspire kids with a similar story.

“I wasn’t this guy that you would pick out of a crowd and say, ‘He’s the one who could become world champion,’” he said. “But I never let that stop me. I always had a drive to say, ‘Man, I will be this and I will become that,’ and no matter what anyone wants to view you as, don’t let it stop you.”

Hurd defended his WBA and IBF 154-pound belts with a fourth-round stoppage of Jason Welborn Saturday on Showtime pay-per-view.

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