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Jarrett Hurd happy to defend titles at home ... and to still live with his parents

Junior middleweight world titlist Jarrett Hurd returns home to defend his belts Saturday night. Photo provided by Fernando Castro/Team Swift

FAIRFAX, Va. -- "Swift" Jarrett Hurd, the unified junior middleweight world titleholder, will be the first to admit that he's become a homebody even though that was not always the case.

When Hurd, who is from Accokeek, Maryland, turned professional in 2012, he spent the first two years of his career fighting in small shows exclusively near his home at venues in Maryland and Washington, D.C., but wanting much more.

Back then, his goal was to get on cards out of town so he could break away from small local shows and increase his visibility and recognition. He got that chance in late 2014 and early 2015 with a couple of club shows in Pennsylvania, where he began to develop a reputation as a young fighter to watch. Videos of his fights made their way to adviser Al Haymon. They made enough of an impression that Haymon signed him, and Hurd's career took off.

He soon found himself on the undercard of televised shows in Newark, New Jersey; Las Vegas; Brooklyn, New York; Philadelphia; and eventually Birmingham, Alabama, where he impressively knocked out Tony Harrison in the ninth round in a Deontay Wilder-headlined show to win a vacant 154-pound world title.

"The change came because coming up I was just only known in my area, so I wanted to fight in other states and places to pick up a fan base, a bigger fan base worldwide," Hurd said. "I defended my title three times out of the area. I always wanted to bring the strap to my hometown and defend it there. So that's when I wanted to come back home.

"This is the first time holding my full training camp in my hometown. Usually I'm used to traveling. This is the first time I've fought at home since 2014 and I'm super excited." Jarrett Hurd

"I always said that one day I wanted to be the guy who, when I got to this position, would give back to the area here. I want to be the face of the DMV [D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area]. When you come here and talk about boxing, you're talking about me. I've got the city behind me and I couldn't be any happier about it."

How much does Hurd love being at home? He takes it literally. He is not shy about admitting that, even at age 28, he still lives with his parents.

"I'm not ashamed of living at home. I can go out and tell the world I love being at home," Hurd said. "It's been working for me. I'm barely at home, so I'm not paying a mortgage on a house that I'm not in and that's a way to save money.

"The money that I touch, my money, is money to invest to make sure when I do retire and I'm ready to move out, that I will be secure. So no, I'm not ashamed. I love being at home. I didn't plan on staying this long, but it's working for me."

Hurd has become the talk of the division, making three defenses: a 10th-round stoppage of former titlist Austin Trout, a split decision over Erislandy Lara to unify two belts in the sensational 2018 fight of the year, and a fourth-round knockout of Jason Welborn in December in his first fight back from shoulder surgery following the victory against Lara.

All three of those defenses came away from home, in Brooklyn, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, respectively. After years of trying to travel for fights, Hurd realized there's no place like home and wanted to defend his belts in front of his community, and his wish was granted.

He will make title defense No. 4 against dangerous mandatory challenger Julian "J Rock" Williams in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card Saturday (Fox and Fox Deportes, 8 p.m. ET) at EagleBank Arena, on the campus of George Mason University.

Accokeek is about 40 minutes from Fairfax, Virginia, where EagleBank Arena is located. The facility holds about 10,000 and was the most logical place to have the fight if Hurd wanted to be close to home and have a venue with a capacity of more than just a few thousand.

For Hurd, a victory over Williams would be another quality win on his résumé and likely pave the way for a chance to set up a unification fight with the winner of the bout between titleholder Harrison and Jermell Charlo (Jermall's twin brother), who meet in June in a rematch of Harrison's controversial decision Dec. 22 with which he claimed the belt.

"To be able to get this opportunity to bring [the fight] back here is special," Hurd said. "Now we're able to get things down with the EagleBank Arena in Fairfax. Virginia, is good enough, so I'm just happy that people that couldn't make it out to the fights that were in other states can make it to this.

"We're not looking past Julian Williams. All that could be stopped if I don't get past him," Hurd said. "There was a wrench in the plans when Jermell Charlo took a loss. A fight with him I don't think about no more because he's still got to get past Harrison the second time. I'm not more focused on fighting him, I'm more focused on getting the WBC [belt]. So if he does win I'll be looking forward to fighting him, and if Harrison wins, I'll be looking forward to fighting Harrison, too."

Hurd (23-0, 16 KOs) didn't just pine to fight at home. For the first time in a while, he also set up his training camp with trainer Ernesto Rodriguez in the area.

"This is the first time holding my full training camp in my hometown. Usually I'm used to traveling," said Hurd, who has been mistaken for NFL star Odell Beckham Jr. because of their resemblance and similar hairstyle. "This is the first time I've fought at home since 2014 and I'm super excited. I can feel the fan base and how they support me already before the fight comes."

Williams (26-1-1, 16 KOs), 29, of Philadelphia, might be on the road for this fight, but to him it is no big deal. He has spent virtually his entire career as a road warrior, having boxed in Philly only twice -- his pro debut in 2010 and once in 2011. So when he was told his second opportunity to fight for a world title would come in Hurd's backyard, he didn't blink.

"I think it's a good opportunity. I didn't really think too much about how difficult it would be to fight him in his hometown," said Williams, who has won four fights in a row since he suffered a fifth-round knockout loss challenging then-titlist Jermall Charlo in 2016. "I just need an arena and some gloves. Man, just ring the bell. I didn't really think too deep into having to fight him in his hometown."

Wherever the fight is taking place, both have a lot riding on it. For Williams, it's a chance to erase the memory of the loss to Charlo and to fulfill a lifetime goal of winning a world title.

"It definitely would change my life as far as the conversation goes," Williams said. "Definitely more financial stability. It would definitely change my life. It's going to mean a lot."