LOS ANGELES -- Unified junior middleweight world titlist Jarrett Hurd had two things on his agenda in his third defense, which came on Saturday night in the co-feature of the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury heavyweight championship fight at the Staples Center.
The big one was to win and stay on course for a further unification fight with fellow titleholder Jermell Charlo in the first half of 2019 and the other was to make sure that the torn left rotator cuff he had surgically repaired this past spring was sound.
Hurd checked off both boxes as he knocked out Jason Welborn in the fourth round.
Hurd (23-0, 16 KOs) showed no issues with his left shoulder. He fired his jab liberally and also threw solid left hooks throughout the fight. Welborn was gritty but ultimately couldn't take the heat.
Welborn (24-7, 7 KOs), 32, of England, brought the crowd to life in the fourth round when he backed Hurd into the ropes and unleashed a series of shots that seemed to buzz Hurd. But Hurd came right back and unleashed his own hard shots, including a right to the body that crumpled Welborn to the canvas. He was on his knees as referee Lou Moret counted him out at 1 minute, 55 seconds.
"I'm just coming of surgery so I wanted to see how I worked off the jab. I felt good I was working behind the jab," Hurd said. "I got caught on the ropes and got caught with some shots and said, 'That's enough. He got enough TV time.' I heard the crowd and I didn't want to get brave, so I turned it up and got the knockdown."
Hurd, 28, of Accokeek, Maryland, was coming off surgery on his left shoulder following a hard-fought split decision win over Erislandy Lara to unify two 154-pound belts in April in a leading fight of the year candidate.
With Welborn, the former British middleweight champion, out of the way, Hurd could fight again in early 2019 but ultimately he is likely to face Charlo (31-0, 15 KOs), who is scheduled to first defend his 154-pound belt against Tony Harrison on Dec. 22 in New York, and got into the ring to confront Hurd after the fight.
"We definitely want Charlo," Hurd said. "I'm calling the shots. I'm No. 1 right now. When I say answer the phone, answer the phone. I got the date. I'm going to have a hometown fight. I'm coming off two fights with southpaws, so I want to fight a right-hander and then I want the Charlo fight."
Charlo then said to Hurd in the ring: "This is easy money. I like those belts. They look real good on you. He said he wants another fight. I'm ready now."
Ortiz stops Kauffman
Heavyweight contender Luis "King Kong" Ortiz, who would like another crack at a world title, especially if it's a rematch with Wilder, dropped Travis Kauffman three times and stopped him in the 10th round of a one-sided fight.
Ortiz (30-1, 26 KOs), 39, a Cuban southpaw who fights out of Miami, Florida, won his second fight in a row since suffering a brutal 10th-round knockout loss challenging Wilder in their fight of the year contender on March 3.
Midway through the sixth round Ortiz knocked Kauffman down with a clean left hand to the head and then jumped on the ring post believing the fight was over. But Kauffman (32-3, 23 KOs), 33, of Reading, Pennsylvania, made it to his feet and although he was shaky, he made through the final 90 seconds of the round.
In the eighth round, Ortiz landed another tremendous overhand left that put Kauffman on the seat of his pants but, again, he survived the round even though Ortiz was doing as he pleased.
Early in the 10th round of the 10-rounder, Ortiz landed another left hand that dropped Kauffman for the third time but it was not nearly as damaging a shot as the others were and Kauffman got up quickly. But moments later Ortiz caught him with another left hand that hurt him badly. Kauffman didn't go down but he took several more clean shots from Ortiz, forcing Taylor to stop it at 1 minute, 58 seconds.
"I'm a warrior. Nothing contains me," Ortiz said through a translator. "We didn't have to knock him out, but we wanted to show everything we have in our repertoire, and we showed it tonight. Of course, I'll fight the winner of the main event. I want that second fight with Wilder. I want to fight anybody."
Heavyweight Joe Joyce (7-0, 7 KOs), 33, the 2016 Olympic super heavyweight silver medalist for Great Britain, stayed on the fast track with an impressive first-round destruction of Joe Hanks (23-3, 15 KOs), 35, of Newark, New Jersey.
Joyce, who recently moved his base from the England to new trainer Abel Sanchez's training camp in Big Bear Lake, California, wasted no time flattening Hanks in Joyce's second fight in the United States. He softened him up with a few shots, forced him to the ropes with a stiff jab and then crushed him with a left hook that dropped Hanks flat on his back in a corner.
Hanks struggled to get up but fell over as he tried and referee Edward Hernandez Jr. waved off the fight at 2 minutes, 25 seconds.
"I've been doing well. There is plenty more to come. The support from back home in England, thank you for coming," Joyce told a crowd filled with Brits. "I hope I put on something good to watch. I am ready for anyone. I'm getting people out quickly.
"I've got a lot of experience. I'm just going to improve on my strength and my speed. I've heard comments that I'm slow, but I seem to land the shots and get the job done. I'm ready for anyone. I want to get in some bigger fights."
Welterweight Robert Guerrero (34-6-1, 19 KOs), 35, of Gilroy, California, who won world titles as a featherweight and junior lightweight, plus interim belts at lightweight and welterweight, came out of a brief retirement and knocked out Adam Mate (28-13, 21 KOs), 27, of Hungary, in the second round.
Guerrero retired after suffering the first knockout loss of his career, a third-round stoppage to former lightweight world titlist Omar Figueroa Jr., on July 15, 2017. But in his comeback he overwhelmed Mate. Guerrero, a southpaw, dropped Mate with a body shot late in the first round and then dropped him with a pair of left hands in the second, causing referee Ray Corona to stop the fight at 2 minutes, 25 seconds.
Cruiserweight Marsellos Wilder (3-0, 2 KOs), 29, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama - the younger brother of Deontay Wilder - dropped David Damore in the second round of a shutout decision win, 40-35 on all three scorecards. Wilder floored Damore in the second round when he sent him partially through the ropes onto the ring apron with a right hand.
Junior middleweight contender Julian "J Rock" Williams (26-1, 16 KOs), 28, of Philadelphia, battered Javier Francisco Castro (28-9, 23 KOs), 34, of Mexico, for a one-sided second-round knockout to win his fourth fight in a row since suffering a fifth-round knockout challenging Jermall Charlo for his world title in December 2016.
Williams landed numerous clean punches, eventually dropping Castro with a combination. He beat the count but Williams continued to pound him until referee Ray Corona stopped it at 2 minutes, 40 seconds, dropping Castro to 1-5 in his last six fights.
Junior flyweight prospect Jesse Rodriguez (8-0, 4 KOs), 18, of San Antonio, who is trained by Robert Garcia, rolled to a shutout decision over Alex Josue Morales (8-9-3, 0 KOs), 25, of Houston. Rodriguez won 60-54 on all three scorecards.
Featherweight Isaac Lowe (16-0-3, 6 KOs), 24, of England, dropped Lucas Rafael Baez (34-17-5, 18 KOs), 33, of Argentina, twice in the fifth round of a knockout win. Lowe dropped him with a right hand and then sent him to all fours moments later with a right-left combination. Baez beat the count but referee Thomas Taylor waved it off at 2 minutes, 11 seconds.