By Keith Idec
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Tony Harrison survived as long as he could Saturday night.
Eventually, however, Jarrett Hurd hurt Harrison enough to make referee Jim Korb stop their 154-pound title fight at Legacy Arena. Harrison reached his feet following a ninth-round knockdown, but spit out his mouthpiece and Korb halted their scheduled 12-rounder at 2:24 of that round.
Hurd (20-0, 14 KOs), of Accokeek, Maryland, won the IBF junior middleweight title Houston’s Jermall Charlo (25-0, 19 KOs) gave up recently. Harrison (24-2, 20 KOs) boxed well during much of the first half of the fight, but began to fade thereafter.
“We knew Tony Harrison would be a tough opponent for the first four rounds,” Hurd said. “Then we just wanted to walk him down and take him out.”
Hurd had hurt Harrison several times in earlier rounds. A picture-perfect right hand to Harrison’s jaw finally floored the contender from Detroit with a little more than 50 seconds to go in the ninth round.
Harrison was flat on his back, but made it to his feet before Korb called an end to the fight.
The 26-year-old Harrison, ranked No. 2 by the IBF, lost by ninth-round TKO for the second time in his career. He entered Saturday’s fight on a three-bout winning streak following a ninth-round TKO loss to Willie Nelson in July 2015.
Harrison backed up Hurd with a straight right hand early in the fifth round, but Hurd connected with a right uppercut that wobbled Harrison just before the bell sounded to end that round. Harrison held to make it to the end of the round.
Harrison seemed to affect Hurd with a right hand to the body with about two minutes left in the seventh round. Then Hurd hurt Harrison with three consecutive right hands to the head later in the seventh.
The third-ranked Hurd knocked Harrison into the ropes with another right hand later in the seventh. Harrison appeared to be fading fast by the time the seventh round ended.
Hurd hurt Harrison again with a right hand late in the eighth round. Harrison tried to move his way out of trouble, but Hurd followed him and unleashed a barrage of punches as Harrison had his back against the ropes.
A staggered Harrison made it to end of the round again, but encountered the aforementioned trouble that led to his second knockout defeat.
The Hurd-Harrison fight was the second of three bouts broadcast by FOX.
In the first televised bout, heavyweight contender Dominic Breazeale bravely battled back from a fourth-round knockdown to knock out powerful Polish prospect Izu Ugonoh in the fifth round of a scheduled 10-rounder. The 6-feet-7, 263-pound Breazeale (18-1, 15 KOs) dropped Ugonoh (17-1, 14 KOs) once in the third round and twice in the fifth.
The third knockdown sent Ugonoh through the ropes and onto the ring apron. Referee Jeff Dodson stopped the fight 50 seconds into the fifth round.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.