Tony Harrison will be cheering on Jermell Charlo in his upcoming fight with Canelo Alvarez, even though he thinks his longtime rival is making a foolish decision. (photo by Ryan Hafey)

In a recent interview, Harrison, the former junior middleweight titlist from Detroit, said it was “stupid” that Houston’s Charlo, the undisputed 154-pound champion, was not only moving up two weight classes to take on Alvarez, the undisputed champion at 168, but doing so after an injury to his hand. 

Charlo suffered a broken hand last winter, which caused his scheduled fight with Australian contender Tim Tszyu to be postponed. Charlo last fought in May of last year, a dramatic stoppage win over Brian Castano to become the undisputed champion at 154.

Now Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs) will challenge Alvarez (59-2-2, 39 KOs) for the Mexican superstar’s WBO, WBA, WBC, and IBF super middleweight titles on Sept. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

“I think it was stupid,” Harrison said of Charlo’s steep challenge in an interview with “I think it was very stupid. Not necessarily him moving up because he probably naturally walks around at that weight. I think it was stupid in the aspect of him breaking his hand and coming back to fight one of boxing’s best.

“I think that was stupid to move up two weight classes to do it. I wouldn’t even feel comfortable with him (Jermell) meeting him (Alvarez) at 160. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with that. No matter why he did it, there’s a reason why he did it, right? And that’s the first thing that tells us, there’s a reason why he chose this fight, and I’m rooting for that man.”

Harrison’s comment in support of Charlo may strike some as surprising, given their contentious rivalry over two fights. Harrison (29-4-1, 21 KOs) controversially defeated Charlo in 2018 to become the WBC 154-pound titlist. The rematch, a year later, ended with Charlo knocking out Harrison in the 11th round.

Harrison said he would have no qualms calling Charlo the greatest fighter of the century if he ends up beating Alvarez on Sept. 30.

“He becomes the best fighter in boxing this past century (if he beats Alvarez),” Harrison said. “And I’mma say that in front of everybody. He becomes [the best] over [Unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr] Usyk, Gervonta [Davis]. He becomes the best fighter in the world, pound-for-pound number one, if he beats Canelo Alvarez at 168.”

Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.