LAS VEGAS – Tony Harrison smiled Thursday the first time Luis Arias yelled from the audience about his knockout defeat to Jermell Charlo in their rematch.
That led to them trading insults during a press conference to promote Showtime’s tripleheader Saturday night at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. Arias claimed Harrison ducked a fight against him. Harrison mocked Arias for having the audacity to call him out after his upset defeat to Vaughn Alexander on December 5 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
When Arias threw a small rubber duck at Harrison, however, the former WBC super welterweight champion jumped off the stage and rushed toward Arias. Security personnel and others got between them, which created more than enough separation for the left hand Harrison threw to have no chance whatsoever at landing.
Arias was quickly ushered out of the room. Harrison turned around, took his seat on stage again and promptly proceeded to talk about why he went after Arias.
“He lucky I missed,” Harrison said. “He f------’ lucky I missed. I be sick of these bitch-ass n----, man. Like respect is, I swear to God – if it ain’t gonna be given to me, I’m gonna take that sh!t. From here on out, my n----, it’s just – it ain’t no money involved, ain’t none of the bullsh!t involved. If you ain’t gonna give me the respect, I’ll take it. But we can keep going.”
Miguel Flores, the moderator of the press conference, then shifted the attention back to Harrison’s 10-round fight against Spain’s Sergio Garcia on Saturday night (10 p.m. ET; 7 p.m. PT).
“I think this motherf----- that I know nothing about is probably one of the toughest opponents that I probably coulda chosen,” Harrison said. “You know what I mean? Coming off a draw [with Bryant Perrella] and I think choosing a guy like that, who just fought the guy [Sebastian Fundora] that everybody damn near was afraid of, to fight, and [Garcia] took that man to the f-----’ wire, I’m like, ‘That’s a good gauge.’ And I like this lineup in general, the whole card, all the way through. Everybody’s in the same weight. And it’s just a way for us to gauge each other. It’s a way for me to look at [Erickson] Lubin and Fundora and be like, ‘Damn, OK. I see this and I see that.’ And it’s a way for them to look at us and say the same thing.”
The mild-mannered Garcia came over to Harrison, fist-bumped him and expressed respect on the stage a few minutes after Harrison’s skirmish with Arias. Detroit’s Harrison appreciated Garcia for approaching him, but he joked that Garcia was trying to soften him up.
“My last thing with this – it’s so f------ hard to fight guys like him, man,” a laughing Harrison said. “They such good people. Like, you know what I’m saying? Like, he tryin’ to butter you up. And I know he tryin’ to butter me up and get me to love him a little bit. But, you know, my name of the game is just to win. But it’s so hard to fight guys like him. Like, humble and all, man. Like, guys like that, they get my respect all the way through. Like, you know, class act. Class-A act, but don’t butter me up, though, before the fight.”
Garcia (33-1, 14 KOs) is listed as more than a 2-1 favorite over Harrison (28-3-1, 21 KOs) by most oddsmakers ahead of their junior middleweight match. Their co-feature will immediately precede a 12-round main event between Lubin (24-1, 17 KOs), of Orlando, Florida, and Fundora (18-0-1, 12 KOs), of Coachella, California.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.