Tony Harrison pulled a major upset to win a junior middleweight world title by controversially outpointing Jermell Charlo on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Harrison, in his second world title opportunity, won by scores of 116-112, 115-113 and 115-113 to claim the belt from Charlo, who was making his fourth title defense.
The broadcasters on the Premier Boxing Champions card on Fox — former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis and famed trainer Joe Goossen — strongly disagreed with the result, as did Larry Hazzard Sr., the Fox unofficial scorer, who had Charlo winning 117-111. ESPN.com also had it 117-111 for Charlo.
“I dictated the pace. That’s what champions do,” Harrison said. “He wound up for big shots and I kept my defense tight. All we worked on was defense. I kept my composure and I did what champions do. I’m blessed. I told y’all, my family, everyone. He’s a great champion. I’ve seen him in the gym. He’s a hell of a champion. I used my ring generalship.”
Charlo’s loss derailed a world title unification fight with two-belt titleholder Jarrett Hurd, who was ringside. That fight was expected to take place in mid-2019.
“They took that fight from me,” Charlo said. “I was pressing the action. He didn’t win that fight. I’m going to get my belts back. I still want Jarrett Hurd. I know my brother knows I won that fight. I might have given away a few rounds, but I won that fight.”
Harrison said he was open to a sequel if that is what Charlo wants.
“Jermell — you gave me a shot. I’ll give you a rematch,” he told Charlo in the ring.
Charlo (31-1, 15 KOs), 28, of Houston, lost a coin flip that landed him in the co-feature while his twin brother and interim middleweight world titlist Jermall Charlo faced Matt Korobov in the main event.
The fight was largely a tactical one. Charlo was more aggressive, relied on a stiff jab and landed his straight right hand often, but Harrison counterpunched and apparently got credit.
In the 12th round, Charlo rocked Harrison with a left hook along the ropes and then landed an overhand right that forced him to hold on as Charlo closed the fight with perhaps his best round, but it was not enough to get the victory.
According to CompuBox punch statistics, Charlo landed 160 of 548 punches (29 percent) and Harrison landed 128 of 377 (34 percent).
The crowd booed loudly when the scores were announced.
But whatever the crowd or broadcasters thought it was a huge win for Harrison (28-2, 21 KOs), 28, of Detroit, who had been knocked out in both of his losses, including in the ninth round of a vacant title fight against Hurd in February 2017. Harrison has now won four fights in a row since that defeat.
“I got back to my corner after every round. They told me to just keep doing what you’re doing, you’re dictating the pace. I dictated the pace,” Harrison said. “That’s what champions do. Champions don’t just try to knock people out. That’s all he wanted to do. I dictated it. I used my jab. I dictated the fight. That’s what champions do.”
Breazeale knocks out Negron
In the opening bout of the tripleheader, heavyweight contender Dominic Breazeale scored a one-punch knockout of Carlos Negron in the ninth round to maintain his status as the mandatory challenger for world titleholder Deontay Wilder, who watched from ringside.
“I’m next in line for Deontay Wilder,” Breazeale said. “I’m coming for him. I’ve been waiting for him and I did what I had to do. I’m ready for him now. It’s been way too long — 13 months. I definitely worked off some ring rust, worked some great combinations and body shots, and finally got the KO. Yes, I know Wilder is here in the crowd. He came to watch. He knows I’m next. He better be holding on to that baby really tightly, because I’m coming. ‘Trouble’ is already here.”
Breazeale, who returned from a 13-month layoff, was in control of the bout for the most part before the booming knockout. He opened a small cut under Negron’s left eye in the third round and rocked him with a right hand at the bell ending the fourth round.
In the ninth round, Breazeale (20-1, 18 KOs), a 2012 U.S. Olympian, connected with a right hand out of nowhere and Negron, badly hurt, went down awkwardly to a knee and referee Arthur Mercante waved off the fight at 1 minute, 37 seconds.
“I was setting up that right hand all night,” Breazeale said. “Since the third round I noticed he dropped his left hand when he took a step to the left, and that’s what I got him with. I landed the big shot. I knew the big shot was coming. It was just a matter of time. Sure enough, when that right hand landed, I knew it was over.”
Negron (20-2, 16 KOs), 31, a 2008 Puerto Rican Olympian who was boxing for the first time in 18 months, saw a seven-fight winning streak end.
Breazeale won his second fight in a row since getting knocked out in the seventh round challenging titleholder Anthony Joshua in June 2016.
Breazeale, 33, of Eastvale, California, landed 139 of 528 punches (27 percent), according to CompuBox. Negron connected with 117 of 386 (30 percent).