By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Tony Harrison didn’t think he’d get a shot at Jermell Charlo before Jarrett Hurd.
Hurd, who stopped Harrison to win the then-vacant IBF junior middleweight title in February 2017, could face Charlo in an appealing 154-pound title unification fight next year. Hurd wasn’t available to fight Charlo on December 22 because Hurd wants a lesser fight in his first bout back from shoulder surgery he underwent in June.
Enter Harrison, who said Thursday he is “by far” the best opponent Charlo will have faced in his 10-year pro career. They’ll fight for Charlo’s WBC super welterweight title December 22 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“I’m actually super surprised he took this fight, but it just shows where he’s at and his character,” Harrison told BoxingScene.com following a press conference at Barclays Center. “People can talk down on him all they want to, but I commend him as an athlete. Because he knows the danger in this fight he’s taking. The world wants to see undefeated versus undefeated, him versus Jarrett Hurd. And to take a fight like this, man, I commend him, I commend his trainer and I commend his team because they’re balls to the wall, man. And no matter what happens, man, he cool peoples with me.”
The 28-year-old Harrison has won three straight fights since Hurd beat him by ninth-round technical knockout in Birmingham, Alabama.
The Detroit native is certain he was winning their scheduled 12-rounder when his body just “started giving out” on him. Harrison (27-2, 21 KOs) suspects he over-trained for that title shot, but he won’t make that mistake again while preparing to challenge the unbeaten Charlo (31-0, 15 KOs).
“I just think it’s the right time,” Harrison said. “Mentally, I’m right. Like I said, I stumbled a couple of times and it just made me the man I am today. I learned lessons and I think I’m at my best. He’s with one of the best trainers in the world his past three fights, and they’re communicating and they’re at they best. So I’m at my best, he’s at his best and I think the competitive nature between both of us, it’ll cause for an explosive fight.”
Harrison has seen some social media criticism of his fight against Charlo since it was announced Tuesday as part of a FOX tripleheader that’ll feature middleweights Jermall Charlo, Jermell’s twin brother, and Willie Monroe Jr. in the main event. The 154-pound contender hasn’t paid it much mind.
“If I pay attention to it, I’d be in the wrong business,” Harrison said. “I’m in the fight business. I’m here to fight Jermell Charlo on December 22nd. The Internet is undefeated. It’ll probably be the only damn thing in the world that’ll be undefeated until it dies. … I’m just going in there to do my business. I’m going in there to do exactly what I’m supposed to do. And December 22nd, I’m coming to fight.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.