LAS VEGAS – Tony Harrison re-established himself as a top 154-pound contender Saturday night.
Nearly a year after his subpar performance against Bryant Perrella, the refocused WBC super welterweight champion overcame a slow start to separate himself from Spanish contender Sergio Garcia. Harrison picked apart a game Garcia for most of the final eight rounds and won a 10-round unanimous decision in the co-feature of Showtime’s tripleheader from Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
Judges Eric Cheek (98-92), Max De Luca (100-90) and Don Trella (100-90) all scored their 154-pound fight for Harrison, who improved to 29-3-1 (21 KOs).
Garcia (33-2, 14 KOs) never stopped coming forward, but Harrison demonstrated skill while consistently countering him, often in combination. Harrison also defended himself well while boxing almost exclusively off his back foot.
Harrison hadn’t boxed since he fought to a controversial 12-round split draw with Perrella last April 17 in Los Angeles. Perrella (17-3-2, 14 KOs) settled for another split draw in Showtime’s opening fight Saturday night, a 10-rounder with Mexican prospect Kevin Salgado (14-0-1, 9 KOs).
Garcia told BoxingScene.com after a press conference Thursday that he would probably retire if he lost to Harrison. Back-to-back losses to Sebastian Fundora and Harrison would be too hard to overcome, the 29-year-old Garcia said, and he doesn’t “need” boxing because he has heavily invested in real estate in Spain.
The 31-year-old Harrison beat Garcia much more decisively than Fundora, who was waiting to fight Erickson Lubin for the WBC interim super welterweight title in Showtime’s main event.
Garcia clearly needed a knockout toward the end of his lopsided loss Saturday night.
A bullish, desperate Garcia tried to land the type of shot during the ninth and 10th rounds he needed to change the course of a fight he obviously was losing handily. Harrison kept his composure, continued to catch Garcia in exchanges and cruised to what amounted to an easy victory.
Harrison landed an array of power punches in a completely one-sided eighth round in which he dominated the hard-charging Garcia.
A right-left combination by Harrison landed a few seconds before the midway mark of the seventh round. Another eye-catching, left-right combination by Harrison wowed the crowd with about 30 seconds to go in the seventh round.
An aggressive Garcia tried to get back into the fight during the sixth round. Harrison was accurate again, though, including a hard half uppercut that knocked Garcia off balance with just under 40 seconds on the clock in the sixth round.
Harrison snapped Garcia’s head backward with a jarring jab 1:05 into the fifth round. Those jabs made Garcia paw at his nose, which began to bleed.
Harrison then drilled Garcia with an overhand right to the side of his head. Another hard right by Harrison made Garcia retreat with approximately 10 seconds remaining in the fifth round.
With just over 30 seconds to go in the fourth round, Harrison nailed Garcia with a right hand that got Garcia’s attention. Harrison also connected with two stiff jabs just before the fourth round concluded.
Harrison landed a right-left combination from the inside about 1:10 into the third round. Garcia stayed in Harrison’s chest for the rest of what was a very competitive round.
Garcia caught Harrison with a right uppercut barely 30 seconds into the second round. About a minute into the second round, Garcia landed a sweeping right hand that got Harrison’s attention.
Nearly 30 seconds later, Garcia clipped Harrison with another right uppercut.
Harrison snapped back Garcia’s head with a jab just after the halfway point of the opening round. Harrison later drilled Garcia with a chopping right hand that connected a few seconds prior to the end of the first round.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.