One of the most anticipated rematches of the year will be live on Fox, this Saturday from the Toyota Arena in Ontario, CA, as WBC junior middleweight champion Tony Harrison (28-2) will be defending his title against the former champion Jermell Charlo (32-1).
Last December, the two met at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and the impression was that Charlo would come out victorious, setting up a unification fight with the winner of Julian Williams and Jarrett Hurd.
Sometimes the best laid plans don't work out, and in this case, it was Tony Harrison whose hand was raised in victory by way of unanimous decision. The victory sent shock waves throughout the boxing scene and there were questions about whether Jermell Charlo was as good as he’s been built up to be.
Jermell Charlo didn’t take losing his title too well, as most people wouldn’t and that led him to demand the rematch immediately. The rematch was quickly booked for June 23rd of this year, however twenty days from the fight date, Harrison injured his ankle, so the bout was postponed to a later date.
Charlo kept the date in June and instead fought Jorge Cota (28-3) in Las Vegas which resulted in a knockout victory and once again sparked the rematch conversations as Tony Harrison looked on from ringside. The rematch was announced shortly after and they will finally face each other this Saturday night on Fox.
Tony Harrison was able to do something that most haven’t against Charlo and that’s keep him at bay with the jab. The jab is what frustrated his opponent and also set up the combinations that connected and resonated with the judges at ringside. Harrison used Charlo’s super aggressive boxing style against him and outsmarted him in certain instances.
This time, Harrison will have to do the same but also have the mental awareness to make the appropriate “in ring adjustments” when necessary. Here are some of the things Harrison will have to do in order to remain the champion.
1. Establish distance: Creating the right amount of distance between them will be important to Harrison and how he does that is by establishing that jab and using every bit of the ring to move around and make Charlo chase him.
2. Increasing Punch output: Although Harrison won by decision last time out, the fight was closer than it had to be because of the low punch output. Harrison has to ensure he is a lot busier this time around in an effort to win over the judges.
3. Throwing punches down the middle: There are times in a Charlo fight when he tends to either over extend when throwing or throws his punches a little wide. Harrison must capitalize off of these instances by throwing punches down the middle whether the lead left jab or the straight right hand.
Jermell Charlo is a great fighter but at times, his passion to be great gets the best of him. In the first fight, I felt as though he was trying too hard to make a big splash and grew frustrated when his opportunities to land something big became less and less as the fight went into the later rounds.
Jermell Charlo knows that dropping that decision brought his stock down a bit and that he needs to revert back to the things that got him into that position in the first place. Let’s take a look at some of the things he will need to do in order to regain his title and status within the boxing world.
1. Keep emotions in check: It will be the job of trainer Derrick James to ensure his fighter remains calm and sticks to the game plan throughout the fight. James knows that a focused and determined Charlo is a dangerous one so he will have to make every effort to keep his guy calm and effective.
2. “Put water in the Basement”: One thing that Charlo hasn’t done well in recent fights is go to the body. Harrison’s movement can be limited if Charlo works the body which will ultimately make Harrison’s arms drop. I really believe that if Charlo focuses to the body early, a late knockout/stoppage can become a reality.
3. Do not over extend or throw wide punches: There are times when Charlo throws wide left hooks or lunges forward with his right hands. Charlo needs to shorten up his punches, keep his hooks tight by having good foot positioning and really getting that good torque behind those punches. When Charlo does this, he can knock out just about anyone.
This is an important fight for both men as there is a lot riding on it for the fighters, PBC and next year’s programming on Fox, Showtime or both. It’s the last fight of the year for Fox and both men have trained extremely hard to gain the “Money, Power & Respect” that each man rightfully feels they deserve.
The rematch will hopefully have a decisive winner and if the “Face to Face” and PBC countdowns are any indication of how this one is going to play out, man are we in for an exciting night of boxing.