Bryant Perrella made headlines with the revelation of boxing all-time great Roy Jones Jr. serving as his new head trainer.
His upcoming opponent, former junior middleweight titlist Tony Harrison didn’t seem particularly impressed.
“I think Roy is very knowledgeable; but he found the wrong horse to bet on,” Harrison told BoxingScene.com. "But those tough guys, they need someone like Abel Sanchez. Athletic fighters benefit more from Roy’s style. They’re the kind of guys that can punch and move, where Roy can work with that. [Perella] ain’t like that.”
Harrison (28-3, 21KOs) returns to the ring for the first time since losing his WBC 154-pound title to Jermell Charlo (34-1, 18KOs) via 11th round stoppage in their thrilling Dec. 2019 rematch. The bout represents Harrison’s only activity in the 28 months since winning the title from Charlo following the first meeting in Dec. 2018.
An injury suffered during training camp delayed the rematch by six months in 2019, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the passing of his father and former head trainer Ali Salaam (11-7 during his own pro career) resulting in Harrison sitting out all of 2020.
For this camp, the 30-year-old Detroit native keeps it in the family, with his brother Lloyd overseeing camp. The adjustments in training have been subtle, moving from an old-school approach to implementing more modern techniques.
By his own admission, Perrella (17-3, 14KOs) essentially underwent a makeover following his last fight.
The 32-year-old southpaw from Fort Myers, Florida was on the verge of winning a decision over Abel Ramos, only to suffer two knockdowns in a literal last-second stoppage loss in their Fox-televised welterweight bout last February in Nashville. Perrella’s team protested the outcome, though to no avail.
Instead came the decision to fine tune every aspect of his game, embarking on a sparring tour along with making the decision to bring his 6’1” frame up to the junior middleweight division. Several camp visits resulted in his settling in Pensacola, Florida to work with Jones, a former four-division champ who will undoubtedly find his way into the International Boxing Hall of Fame once he makes it to the ballot later this year.
Jones has spent his retirement working with fighters both in the gym and as an active promoter, with Perrella joining the likes of Chris Eubank Jr. and others to hone their skills at the Pensacola ranch. Perrella believes he has stumbled upon a winning formula between the knowledge acquired from his latest camp and not having to cut an additional seven pounds.
Of course, what is mapped out on paper doesn’t always translate in the ring.
“The moment he gets hit, you’re gonna see a sheep turn back into a sheep, a turtle [crawl back into his shell},” insists Harrison. “In order for Roy’s style to work with a fighter, the styles have to mesh to begin with.
“I love Roy, he’s one of the best but he just picked the wrong horse.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox