Charlo blisters "Super Bad" to regain title
By Robert Ecksel on December 22, 2019
Tony Harrison is a slick boxer-puncher. He was champion for a reason. (TrappFotos)
Saturday night at Toyota Arena in Ontario, California, in a fight televised live on FOX and FOX Deportes, Jermell Charlo (33-1, 17 KOs), the former WBC junior middleweight champion from Houston, Texas, regained the throne in dramatic fashion by stopping former conqueror Tony “Super Bad” Harrison (28-3, 21 KOs), the defending WBC champion from Detroit, Michigan, at 2:28 of round 11. It was the third time Charlo dropped him in the fight.
Charlo said prior to the bout that he wasn’t leaving it to the judges again. He thinks he got robbed in the first fight and he’s not alone. In Saturday’s rematch, he was as good as his word; his fists did the talking. Charlo was looking for a knockout from the opening bell. More fearless than tactical, a prince of pride and determination, he let his hands go, lunging forward at odd angles and sometimes getting caught, but winging punches with the worst intentions imaginable. Jermell Charlo fought like he wanted to end it and the sooner the better.
The fight was Harrison’s first defense of the title he won from Charlo by close but unanimous decision a year ago. During his ring walk Saturday night, Harrison was all but screaming the word REPEAT at the top of his voice. His country gone city slicker attire drag queen garb made a statement. I'm not sure it answered any questions or was necessary. Harrison wore sunglasses during the ring walk. They were tinted orange. He had a personal rapper with him who was rhyming up a storm. The champion was beaming . Joyous, he reached out to his loving fans with, Look, ma, I’m at the top of the world enthusiasm, and here to rain down love from the clouds. Saturated in hip hop, money, and boxing, Harrison absorbed the love of the crowd like a sponge absorbs a spilled drink. Exuding good vibes in all directions, I wondered if Harrison was on Ecstasy. Maybe his press clippings had gone to his head. Whatever was causing him to act that way, it didn't bode well with Jermell Charlo shadowboxing in his dressing room.
Harrison is a slick boxer-puncher. He’s champion for a reason. Winning the title from Jermell Charlo, even competing with Jermell Charlo, is no mean feat. Harrison came into Saturday's fight as the man with a plan and the experience and skills to back it up. Too bad, "Super Bad,"Charlo had plans of his own.
“I got the belt back and I didn't leave it up to the judges,” Charlo said. “Tony is a former champion. He had a lot on the line. I dominated and I knocked him out.”
Harrison is a tough out. Everything about Harrison is tough. He’s a thoughtful fighter, but he can dish it out as well as take it. The fight changed hands several times over the rounds. Sometimes it seemed Harrison wouldn’t be denied. Other times Charlo’s single-mindedness was flammable. He didn’t just want his title back. He wanted to burn Harrison's down for disrupting his momentum.
"Listen, I'm a gentleman at the end of the day,” Charlo said. “I showed my respect, but at the end of the day—I don't like the dude.
“I'm down for making history. He held the title too long and I had to come back and get it."
Charlo dropped Harrison in round two. Harrison’s fast hands and solid chin got him right back into the fight.
The bout's second half was also give-and-take. The advantage changed hands many times. Rounds could have gone either way.
The 11 was Harrison’s Waterloo. With victory or defeat up for grabs for both men, Charlo caught Harrison with a left hook that stunned him. Down he went. A few seconds later, a standing eight-count from referee Jack Reiss bought Harrison more time. He needed it, but it wouldn't be enough. The soon to be former champion was absorbing punishment and slumped to the canvas another time. He looked like a beaten man. Charlo jumped on the turnbuckle and raised his arms in victory. He howled. He pounded his chest with his fists. It was a quintessential boxing victory. It was also premature.
In one of the many archived sub-specialties of a major sport with more than its share of oddities, the referee, Charlo’s celebrations aside, didn’t know whether it was over or not. The California State Athletic Commission thought it was over, but nobody slammed a gavel on anyone’s fingers so no one could sure. Precious time was wasted. A few hearty souls wrestled chaos back into its cage. The festivities could resume. Charlo picked up where he left off. A final fusillade of punches were bouncing off Harrison as the 11th was drawing to a close. The ref mercifully waved it off.
“I let him know that the power was real,” said Charlo. “2020 is going to be real. It's going to get loud.”
Charlo was ahead on two of the three judges’ scorecards at the time of the stoppage.
A bit more subdued after the fight than during his ring walk, Harrison said, “I started getting a little lax and got caught. He earned it. I hate it, but he earned it. The game plan was to do a little boxing. But taking a year off, my body wasn't used to it. He earned it and no excuses, I got caught slipping.”