In-depth with Tony Harrison: ‘I’m a danger to anybody’
By Ian Aldous: On Saturday December 22nd, Tony Harrison (27-2) will enter the lion’s den and attempt to become ‘The Grinch’, when he battles Jermell Charlo (31-0) for Charlo’s WBC super-welterweight world championship, at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York, live on Fox. This will be Harrison’s second shot at a world title after an impressive performance ended in defeat against current IBF and WBA world champion, Jarrett Hurd. Last week, the man from Detroit, Michigan took some time to talk with me about his make-or-break opportunity.
IA: You said at the press conference that you were surprised Jermell took the fight with you. Why exactly were you surprised?
TH: I’m a danger to anybody. I’m a threat to anybody, no matter the fighting style, no matter the street you’ve been on, no matter the fighters you’ve fought. The attributes I possess (mean) I’m a threat to anybody with the speed, the power and the skill.
IA: You also mentioned about patting yourself on the back and being resilient. Has it sometimes been hard to stay motivated?
TH: Sometimes you find it hard, seeing as fights don’t go as often as you want them to go, or you don’t fight when you think you deserve to fight, or the money’s not as good as you think it can be. At the end of the day, whether 100ft out or 20ft out, when it’s war time – you got to shoot the guns. For me, (I) love the smell of napalm.
IA: Were you impressed with Jermell’s devastating knockout win over Erickson Lubin and solid win over Austin Trout?
TH: I think (the) Erickson Lubin (fight), surprised me how early it was. I had him (Jermell) picked to win. I think Lubin is a hell of a fighter, but I think he was ahead of his time. I’ve been in those same shoes and he let the emotion of the fight carry over too much into the fight. I seen it firsthand because it happened to me once. I think he’s a hell of a fucking fighter, but I still had Jermell picked to win. I think the Trout fight had its gifts and curses. Jermell was looking for the knockout, but Trout showed how good he still is and can be. He’s still active, he’s still alive. We’re both (Jermell and I) around the same age. I’m probably a little more athletic than him. I’d just like to see how his game plan unravels and how the fight unravels. I’m not only a fighter in this fight – I’m a fan of this fight. Round-by-round, I’m going to be doing my own diagnostics and seeing how everything is going.
IA: Your knockout percentage is considerably higher than his and some might say you’re a better technician inside the ring than him. Would you agree with that statement?
TH: I mean, for sure. I’m pretty sure he sees what everybody else sees. The skill speaks for itself. I also see the resilience of him to stay disciplined from round one to the end, and my flaw is – I’m from round one to seven, he’s from one to twelve.
IA: Is it win-or-bust for you in terms of winning a world title on December 22nd?
TH: For me mentally – it’s win or bust. To look at the fighters in the weight class and to look at myself – I still feel like I’m top five in the weight class. Could I still compete and beat the rest of the guys (despite a loss)? Yeah, I could. None of that shit matters. Only thing that matters is world championships and to get my second shot at it, like you said – it’s win or bust for me.
IA: I think some fans forget you gave Hurd a very competitive fight until the stoppage, how can you improve to make that difference and beat an elite fighter like Hurd or Charlo because you’ve got the skills to do it?
TH: Analysts see what they see and write what they write. Probably most of them have never been in a ring before, you know what I mean? When I talk to analysts and they talk about the Jarrett Hurd fight, I just want them to come at me with facts. A lot of folks saw me skate (rounds) one through six, easy. I started getting a little more touched around seven and eight and then round nine. I’m a student of the sport and the only reason I spit my own mouthpiece out was from watching fights where fighters did that before me. Me spitting my own mouthpiece out allowed the ref to stop a world title fight. I was just trying to buy me time. Not only have I fought him, but he’s a cool guy. Him and his team, I fuck with them. We keep up with each other on social media. For somebody (me) to be world champion from one through six (rounds), for me, he needed a knockout. To even get a draw, he needed to knock me down. To do a world champion like that – it shows I’m right there. It’s not about skill no more, it’s about detail. It’s about mentally locking-in and putting it all on the line.
IA: The winner of your fight will hopefully get the opportunity to unify with Jarrett Hurd if he gets past Jason Welborn on December 1st. Is it a fight you think might happen?
TH: F–k, yes! I was on the same fight card when he fought Austin Trout and we rolled in the car together and he knows how bad I want that fight. I think him and his team know. That was a fight where I felt I broke down and he didn’t do anything to break me down – I broke down. I didn’t say I lost to Jarrett Hurd, I lost to something Tony didn’t do right. I think him and his team know how much of a competitor I am. But, kudos to them, they capitalized on the moment. I love them to death, but they know how bad I want that fight.
IA: In your win over Ishe Smith, you dominated the second half of the fight, was that a sign of you improving your stamina and how on earth was it just a split decision for you?
TH: I think that’s just the politics of the sport. The judges like who they like, and another thing that played a big part in me getting a split decision was the fact that the margins were so wide against Julian Williams (Smith lost a wide decision to Williams previously) that he had something to argue about. He legitimately had something to argue about, being that the scorecard was that wide and the fight was competitive. When he fought me, it wasn’t that competitive and I was learning from a veteran sparring match.
IA: You almost had him stopped as well and no-one’s done that.
TH: I tried it man. It just showed the patience in me because three years ago, I would have went balls to the wall, would have blew a gasket, transmission fluid, gas pump (laughs), the exhaust! It just showed the patience in me. I slowed it down and I’m slowly getting better and I’m slowly becoming a young vet in the sport. I think that fight is what earned me this fight. To do that in the style and fashion I did it, I didn’t complain and rant about the judges. I take what (fights) they give me. They call me, I say, ‘yes’.
IA: You turned professional under the legendary Emanuel Steward. How much of an influence has he had on the fighter you are today?
TH: The things we did together was just unforgettable. I think half of the things that I possess right now come from me watching the way he moved and watching the things that he did and how he trained (Wladimir) Klitschko and Andy Lee. I just picked up little things like that. The little detailed stuff that he did, it was so detailed. I didn’t realize it then, but I realize it now. It’s the small details that make a world champion. It doesn’t come with skill because you can see the most skillful guys that won’t become world champions because of the details, the people that’s around them, the things that they eat, the time they go to sleep. His voice was so powerful and there’s some things you just won’t ever forget.
Twin brothers and world champions Jermall Charlo and Jermell Charlo will kick off the new season of Premier Boxing Champions on FOX and FOX Deportes live in primetime on Saturday, December 22 at Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING™.
Jermall Charlo will defend his WBC interim middleweight title against top-rated contender Willie Monroe, Jr., while Jermell Charlo makes the fourth defense of his WBC super welterweight championship against hard-hitting former title challenger Tony Harrison.
The exciting night of action will also see WBC mandatory challenger and 2012 U.S. Olympian Dominic “Trouble” Breazeale battle Carlos Negron, a member of the Puerto Rican boxing team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, in a 10-round heavyweight attraction that opens the FOX and FOX Deportes broadcast at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.
Tickets for the show, which is being promoted by Lions Only Promotions and TGB Promotions in association with DiBella Entertainment, go on sale Friday, October 26 at 10 a.m. ET. Tickets can be purchased at ticketmaster.com, barclayscenter.com, or by calling 800-745-3000. Tickets can also be purchased at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center starting Saturday, October 27 at noon ET. Group discounts are available by calling 844-BKLYN-GP.