By: Kirk Jackson
“I got the belt back and I didn’t leave it up to the judges,” – the bold, telling statement, from the two-time WBC junior middleweight champion Jermell “Iron Man” Charlo (33-1, 17 KO’s).
“Tony is a former champion. He had a lot on the line. I dominated and I knocked him out. It let him know that the power was real. 2020 is going to be real. It’s going to get loud.”
Powerful declarations from the champion. Charlo has legit power and he completed his task in retrieving the belt he lost the previous year. However, there is much to digest from his statement and far more to the story.
He was accurate with reclaiming his title and 2020 has endless possibilities, regarding the impact he can have within the junior middleweight division. However, he was far from dominant against Tony “Super Bad” Harrison (28-3, 21 KO’s).
Donned wearing Detroit Lions’ silver and blue, Harrison, in yet another attempt to troll Charlo, placed together a masterful boxing exhibition.
In a turn of events by comparison to their first encounter, Harrison was the aggressor – dictating range and controlling the pace for most of the fight.
When Charlo came out guns blazing in the opening rounds, even successfully scoring a knockdown towards the end of round two, Harrison regained his composure and steadily gained control of the fight. Calmness and confidence oozed from Harrison’s being, sometimes even to his detriment with how the fight turned out in the 11th round.
“I felt like I was doing whatever I really wanted to do before that,” Harrison said during the post-fight press conference. “And I felt like certain parts of the round, I felt like I was starting to break his will. You know what I mean? Because he started to come forward and I told myself like, ‘Look, you tough. You strong. Go for it. Let’s see him fighting on his back foot.’ And I made him do that damn near the whole night. I was catching a lot of his shots, and I pushed forward, man. Ain’t nothing else left to say, man. He earned it. Ain’t nothing else I can really say.The guy earned it. He was a champion for a reason. He earned it.”
This fight highlighted the strength and great attributes each fighter presents. Harrison displayed boxing skill at the highest level; operating off his jab at long-range, elite level defense and precision with his punches, along with the Detroit-grit to boldly trade shots inside the trenches and generally getting the better of the exchanges.
Charlo arguable displayed the greatest traits of all for this bout – consistency and focus. It was the focus which may have been revenge-based, that enabled his success so late in the fight.
“I brought out some things,” Charlo said. “I brought out more than just that old-style, walk-down type of fighter. Tony wanted to come forward. ‘Oh, OK. Come forward, so I can set some traps.’ I came forward, backed up, threw some body shots and just tried to do as much as I can to win that fight. I knew it was getting close. I didn’t want it to get close”
The body punching was a consistent stamp of success for Charlo and those were some of the punches landing with some regularity.
“I knew it was some late rounds that he was edging. You know what I mean? And I didn’t want it to be that wicked feeling again. You know what I mean? So, I looked over at my brother, glanced over at him, seen him the only one moving in the crowd at that moment, and he was communicating with me through that twin shit. And he was telling me to step it up a little bit.”
Harrison harassed Charlo leading up to the fight and pressed the point of poking at Charlo’s inability to accept defeat. Many criticisms stewing from Harrison, may be viewed at fair assessments depending on who you ask.
It was more than bad blood in a way, the younger Charlo twin may have been forced to look at himself in the mirror, to reflect on who he is as a fighter and perhaps this sparked a measure of growth and maturity for one of the leaders of the Lions Only club.
Jermell’s character and resolve was tested before and throughout their second bout. It can be argued he was getting out boxed throughout the night. Observers can speculate whichever way they want and form opinions on the words and actions of the Houston native. But as of now, he displayed resolve in the rematch and accomplished his mission. Simba successfully returned to the Pride Lands.
The build-up leading up to the fight, the venomous back and forth between both sides and most importantly, the action across their second bout, warrants a third bout to cap the trilogy.
“I know probably a big question is would you do a trilogy?” Charlo said. “Take that shit to pay-per-view. This could’ve easily been pay-per-view. You know what I mean? And Ontario did great. They showed up. FOX did an amazing job promoting, and all of the things we seen.”
According to Nielsen Media Research, Saturday’s edition of PBC on FOX averaged 1.415 million viewers, along with posting a 1.3 metered market rating.
The 1.3 metered market rating; which is a sampling of overnight data collected from the top 44 U.S. televised markets, is tied for the second most-watched boxing telecast of the year, placing it alongside a March 9 card, featuring then WBC welterweight champion Shawn Porter, in a narrow win over Yordenis Ugas,also aired on FOX.
The viewership numbers justify a third bout and Harrison undoubtedly is all for it.
The PBC may have stumbled across a diamond in the rough with Harrison, as he essentially was the driving force for selling the fight. Displaying his gift of gab, he was the leading force controlling the press conferences and interviews leading up to the rematch.
Wearing his “Cornball” shirt, even while playing the villain role in this PBC drama, Harrison came across as the endearing force throughout this promotion. He came across as authentic and his output in the fight matched his verbal vitriol and energy leading up to the fight.
Harrison may be regulated to contender in waiting status, but he has the skills of an elite fighter and his personality warrants more time across television.
For Charlo, he mentioned a big year for 2020, so what is next? Theoretically, if Charlo and Harrison were to fight a third time, it’s highly unlikely that their rubber match would happen next.
Word is Charlo is expected to pursue a 154-pound title unification bout with Julian “J-Rock” Williams (27-1-1, 16 KO’s, 1 NC), aka “The Landlord.”
If Williams successfully defends his IBF and WBA titles against Jeison Rosario (19-1-1, 13 KO’s) on January 18 in Philadelphia, the most likely match-up in the aftermath will feature Charlo and Williams for all the marbles.
Which is an interesting storyline as Williams will aim to continue the family feud he has with the Charlos, having faced current WBC middleweight champion and older twin brother Jermall Charlo (30-0, 22 KO’s) back in 2016.
In regards to Harrison and Charlo saga, unification and potential history may take priority over a rubber match.
Harrison vs. Charlo II was one of the rare occasions in which the sequel was greater than the original. A potential third bout may be the best yet.