By Mark Elezaj
ONTARIO, California – Jermell Charlo (33-1, 17 KOs) regained the WBC junior middleweight title, stopping Tony Harrison (28-3, 21 KOs) in the 11th round of a highly competitive, fan friendly rematch at the Toyota Arena in Ontario, California.
From the opening bell, Charlo came out firing big shots, looking to hurt the champion early, but Harrison responded well, working off the jab, while landing an overhand right of his own late in the round.
In the second, Charlo landed a left hook during an exchange that dropped Harrison.
Harrison quickly got up and composed himself, taking control of the fight by walking Charlo down, finding success on the inside, landing left hooks to the body of Charlo.
As the fight moved into the later rounds, Charlo began to attack more, pushing the action while throwing combinations. Harrison stood his ground and traded shots, pushing Charlo back at times.
In the 11th round, Charlo landed a left hook that stunned Harrison, sending him down to the canvas. Harrison stood up quickly and Charlo, sending blood, moved on for the kill.
Charlo attacked Harrison with a series of punches, dropping the champion again. Charlo, thinking that the fight was over, began celebrating.
Referee Jack Reiss allowed the fight to continue.
Charlo attacked Harrison again, landing hard power shots until the Reiss stopped the action at 2 minutes, 28 seconds of the eleventh round,
At the time of the stoppage, two judges had Charlo up 96-93, while the other judge had Harrison on top 95-94.
“I got the belt back,” Charlo said in his post-fight interview.
“It took me a while, but I didn’t leave it up to the judges. Tony’s a former champion, he came to fight. He had a lot on the line, he had pressure on him. I did what I had to do. I went in there, I dominated, and I knocked him out.”
“I let him know that the power was real,” Charlo said. “2020 is going to be real. It’s going to get loud.”
When asked if the bad blood was over, Charlo responded,
“I’m a gentleman at the end of the day. I’ve got a family feed and so does he,” he stated. “I showed my respect, but at the end of the day, I don’t like the dude, period. I’m on to bigger and better things.”
Harrison disagreed with the stoppage, but said he wasn’t going to put blame on the official.
“Jack is a championship referee. I ain’t gonna question whatever he saw,” he said. “He was the better man, I started to get a little lax. I got caught. He earned it. I hate it, but he earned it.”
Harrison also said that he didn’t feel like himself after a year off.
“My body, taking that year off, my body was, like, ‘What’s going on right now?’ But no excuse, he earned it,
“I feel like I was doing good, I feel like I was dogging it. I got caught slipping, though. One thing I’ve said, I’ll never trade offense for defense, but that’s what I did.”
Harrison also agrees that there’s still bad blood between the two, and he hopes there can be a third fight.
“It ain’t water under the bridge,
“I wanna do it one more time. I feel like I let me down. It’s 1-1, hopefully we do it again.”