“He earned it. I hate it, but he earned it.”
That was a dejected Tony Harrison after his 11th round TKO loss to Jermell Charlo on Saturday night, and despite being the exact thing the judge told my ex upon granting me full custody of our Super Nintendo, this wasn’t Harrison so much squashing a beef as it was him confirming one.
Charlo and Harrison have made no secret of their disdain for one another. To call the build up to this fight “contentious” would be like calling Andy Ruiz “slightly husky.”
After Harrison’s controversial victory in their first fight in December of 2018, the two would engage in a competitive shit-talking contest, mostly comprised of finding new and creative ways to call each other a bitch.
Charlo would score a sensational knockout against Jorge Cota in a stay-busy fight this past June while Harrison, in a decision that would later prove to be misguided at best, chose to remain inactive in the 12 months between.
Before sculpting the foundation of every barstool dipshit’s foreign policy opinions, Machiavelli once said, “Men should either be treated generously or destroyed, because they take revenge for slight injuries… for heavy ones they cannot.”
That’s a verbose, old-dead-Italian-guy way of saying “Either be nice to someone or kill them.” Since Charlo and Harrison decided early on that the former part was off the table, they would unanimously opt for the latter. To which I say, hell yeah.
As the two men stepped into the ring at the Toyota Arena in Ontario, California on a PBC on FOX-televised card, the only word on Charlo’s mind would be revenge while Harrison aimed to prove his victory in their first fight was no fortuitous aberration.
Vengeance or vindication? Validation or retaliation? Payback or playback? Let’s fucking go.
In contrast to the success he had controlling their first fight from the outside, Harrison made it clear from the outset that his plan was to stay on his front foot and take the fight to Charlo. Conventional wisdom would dictate one would repeat the tactics that brought them past fortune but nothing about either of these two men is conventional.
As Harrison marched forward Charlo seemed to be auditioning for the god damn Dodgers with cartoonishly exaggerated wind-ups for his overhand rights that continuously fell short. It only takes one, but if this button-mashing approach to power-punching was to be Charlo’s game plan then Harrison may as well have trained for this fight with a flyswatter. Power means shit if your opponent can see it coming. Bullets are useless without a gun and vice versa.
Luckily we wouldn’t have to wait long to see if Charlo would calibrate his scope. As the seconds ticked down in round 2, Harrison’s aggression walked him straight into a right hand and earned him a trip to the canvas. He was only dazed slightly and would make it out of the round but dreams of an easy night were suddenly waving goodbye from the shore as Harrison’s boat drifted into dangerous waters.
Surprisingly, the knockdown shot actually seemed to wake Harrison up. As he focused his attack on Charlo’s body and tied him up on the inside, he was suddenly making up rounds at a startling pace. Through 10 rounds he was up on two official scorecards and in seemingly good shape to stay that way. Like a recovering alcoholic, all he had to do was stick with the program.
Little did he know, he was wandering into a frat party with an open bar and a dangerously liberal bartender. Frankie says RELAPSE.
Midway through round 11 Charlo connected with a short left hook that sent Harrison stumbling backwards to the corner and ultimately down on his ass.
He would again rise but as the action resumed moments later, Harrison would find himself trapped on the ropes and again on the wrong end of a Charlo barrage. As Harrison slumped to the canvas Charlo prematurely celebrated on the corner ropes, unaware that apparently Harrison owed referee Jack Reiss money and this fight couldn’t end until his bloodlust was satisfied.
Charlo would get the knockout moments later as the result of a sloppy flurry on the ropes, which is also how the responding EMTs described my “Double Dare” audition. Considering the violence that preceded it, the actual stoppage could ironically be considered premature as many of the shots in Charlo’s cannonade weren’t actually landing.
Nonetheless, Charlo officially got his revenge at 2:28 of round 11 and reclaimed some shitty belt or another in the process. Look it up if you care to know which one. I do not.
Charlo now sets his sights on bigger game in the coming year. There’s no shortage of big names and money fights in and around 154 and 160, not excluding a rubber match with Harrison as their rivalry currently stands at one to one.
Harrison unfortunately now finds himself in the unenviable position of having to beg his mortal enemy for a bit of charity in order to make a third fight a reality. It would be like the Golden Corral buffet asking Andy Ruiz for a rematch and Harrison likely isn’t in a hurry to debase himself like that.
Regardless of what the future holds, this was a fun promotion with a fight that lived up to the hype. That doesn’t happen a ton in this sport so this was a welcome reprieve from the usual anticlimax of contrived animosity and we’ll gladly take it.
Charlo can, and should, revel in the sweetness of revenge. Harrison can hold his head high even in defeat. Two men fueled by hatred with advanced degrees in shit-talking deserve our utmost respect.
Safe to say that last night, they earned it.