Harrison May Deserve a Trilogy but Charlo Has Better Options

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Tony Harrison was stopped late in his first title defense, but not before showing the world that ‘Super Bad’ is truly legit.

Detroit’s Tony “Superbad” Harrison garnered a ton attention over the past year. By talking his talk, he rebounded from the status a two-loss record – both by knockout – typically drops most fighters to in today’s game. Of course, last December, Harrison unexpectedly boxed his way to an upset that made him the WBC super welterweight champion. He picked off an undefeated champion in Houston’s Jermell Charlo. Over the ensuing months, supporters of the two went back and forth concerning the merit of Harrison’s achievement.

Regardless of the debate, Harrison returned to his beloved Motor City with a green belt, Charlo’s “0” and ostensibly the former champion’s pride. Based on Harrison’s status prior to the fight, along with the way he won the title, the 29-year old wasn’t able to look towards new business. He needed to validate his new status with a second defeat of Charlo. A rematch was imperative.

This past Saturday night in Ontario, CA, Harrison appeared to be on the cusp of solidifying his champion status. The rematch lived up to its pre-fight buzz fueled by a host of entertaining exchanges between Harrison and Charlo.

The left hook was a major weapon of Jermell Charlo in avenging his loss to Tony Harrison. Photo credit: Leo Wilson/PBC

Both fighters’ offensive attacks were sharper than the insults hurled at one another over the past six months. After 10 hard-fought rounds, Charlo finally silenced Harrison’s talk in the 11th round, with a sequence of punishing left hooks that left the champion toppled along the ropes.

Harrison’s will allowed him to get up, but his body couldn’t fully recover from Charlo’s strafing. Referee Reiss gave him a final chance to defend his title, but he was unable to punch back as the oncoming Charlo moved in for the finish. Charlo’s unanswered flurry forced Reiss to act in Harrison’s best interest, and with the stoppage so went the Detroit fighter’s title.

In the second round, Charlo nearly ended the FOX PBC Fight Night early. Harrison got away from his measured attack and Charlo landed a left hook that led to the fight’s first knockdown. Harrison shook off that shot. All told, over the next eight rounds, Harrison showed the world his true class.

In the 11th round, Harrison received a visit from the same fortune frequently encountered by Detroit’s professional football team. The Lions (3-11-1) will miss this year’s NFL playoffs, which brings their streak of seasons without a playoff win to 27. Harrison’s ring attire served as homage to his hometown Lions.

Photo credit: Stephanie Trapp/TGB Promotions

As an NFL franchise, the Lions are guaranteed a shot at a championship in 2020. Harrison’s loss places him in a period of wait and see. The Detroit native’s newfound relevance undoubtedly lines him up for a noteworthy fight in 2020, but Charlo’s next move likely involves the pursuit of career-defining wins.

Charlo revealed his intentions while speaking on his display of power that made him a two-time champion.

“It let him know that the power was real and 2020 is going to be real,” Charlo said. “It’s going to get loud.”

By “loud” the 29-year old probably means he will roar in one direction: IBF and WBA champion Julian Williams (27-1-1, 16 KOs). After Charlo’s setback against Harrison in December 2018, the loss cleared the way for Williams to knock off former unified champion Jarrett Hurd this past May. Charlo was tracking down Hurd when he overlooked Harrison.

A Look at What Lies Ahead for Charlo

Hurd returns against Francisco Santana (25-7-1, 12 KOs) on January 25 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Williams is scheduled for a homecoming bout versus Jeison Rosario (19-1-1, 13 KOs) on January 18. That seven-day difference coupled with an emphatic Hurd win could create a pause to explore Williams-Hurd 2. However, expect Charlo to state the case for title unification. Charlo’s twin brother, Jermall, stopped Williams in December 2016. With three titles in the balance, plus the Williams vs Charlo storyline, the table could be set for a big showdown.

Harrison Holds a Nice Hand as Well

Harrison wouldn’t necessarily be an ‘odd man out’ here. A potential rematch with Hurd is a solid double-header if packaged with Williams-Charlo. And, Harrison out-boxed Hurd the first half of their February 2017 bout. Hurd rallied to stop Harrison in the ninth to claim the vacant IBF title.

Current business practices preempt any Charlo interest in the division’s fourth title. Brian Castano represents the Premier Boxing Champions’ play in that matter. He is the mandatory challenger for new WBO champion Patrick Teixeira. A Castano win creates the path for an undisputed champion. Or, a win in Harrison’s return bout positions him for another title bid.

Harrison returns to the drawing board following a tough loss. His stock is at an all-time high. Time is needed to regroup and retool. However, the call will come. It’s just unlikely the Charlo is on the other end – at least not in 2020.

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