ALMOST exactly a year to the day since Jermell Charlo lost his WBC super-welterweight title to Tony Harrison on an upset unanimous decision in Brooklyn, the Texan regained the belt via KO in an edge-of-your-seat grudge rematch in Ontario, California.
In the first bout, Harrison had used lateral movement to stifle Charlo, but the Detroit native switched up his approach in the return by being more attack-minded and boxing on the front foot.
Despite being floored by a left hook followed by a glancing right as early as the second session, Harrison seemed to be in the ascendancy going into the championship rounds, with his jab and body work proving particularly effective.
Rather surprisingly, heading into the 11th Harrison was down 96-93 on two of the three official scorecards, though the third judge had him up by 95-94. Unaware of how the fight was being scored, the defending champion was convinced that he was in control, as evidenced by his showboating at times. Ultimately, the Michigan man would pay for his overconfidence, as he admitted himself afterwards.
“Damn, never get too relaxed in this game,” Harrison said. “I started getting a little lax and I got caught. He earned it. I hate it, but he earned it. No excuses, I got caught slipping.”
Houston’s Charlo exploited his opponent’s complacency with ruthless efficiency in round 11. A jarring left hook caused Harrison to teeter, before a right-left forced him to the mat. A nine-shot assault sent him down again soon after, with another nine-punch volley upon the resumption leading the referee to call a halt to proceedings at 2-28.
A rubber match in 2020 would no doubt be well received by fans.