Tony Harrison has grown accustomed to putting his name out there for the biggest fights only for them to never materialize.
It was with that mindset that he knew to remain patient but not get his hopes up for a lucrative showdown with unbeaten junior middleweight contender Tim Tszyu. In a rare twist of his fate, his wishes were immediately granted.
“I honestly never thought it would happen,” Harrison told host Ben Damon during a recent ‘Face Off Segment’ on Fox Sports Australia. “I flicked my quarter into the [wishing] well. It got to the bottom and I said, ‘God if you hear me talking, Tim is my man. Make it happen.’
“I got a call three weeks later. Here I am.”
The two will meet for the vacant interim WBO junior middleweight title fight. Showtime will air the scheduled twelve-round bout this Saturday evening (Sunday local time) from Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney Olympic Park.
Tszyu (21-0, 15KOs) was originally due to face undisputed junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo (35-1-1, 19KOs) on January 28 in Las Vegas. The event was canceled after Charlo suffered a broken hand in mid-December which put him on the shelf for more than two months.
It left the second-generation boxer without a fight before he received word of a homecoming appearance in store. The Sydney-born Tszyu—whose father Kostya is a rHall of Fame former undisputed junior welterweight champion—could have fought any ranked contender, with plenty of softer touches that would have been acceptable while waiting to reschedule his first career title fight.
In that vein, Harrison didn’t expect to land the opportunity. The former WBC junior middleweight titlist is generally viewed as high-risk by most of his divisional peers and didn’t expect Tszyu to jeopardize his WBO mandatory ranking.
“From one competitor to the next, I salute that man,” Harrison said, mostly meant as a compliment. “I give that man his flowers for not only being an awesome competitor for taking this fight that was somewhat stupid that he didn’t have to take. He probably had another opponent in mind that somehow fell through .But the moment Charlo broke his hand or hurt his hand, I immediately got on Twitter and said, ‘I’ll step in for him.’
“I’ve always wanted to be active and fight the best. It just so happened I got the opportunity to come to Australia and I love it.”
The Tszyu-Harrison winner is expected to next challenge Charlo in early summer. Harrison is the only fighter to beat Charlo, doing so via unanimous decision in December 2018 to win the WBC 154-pound title. Charlo avenged his lone defeat with an eleventh-round knockout in their December 2019 rematch to regain his title before fully unifying the junior middleweight division.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox