Notebook: Harrison on Tszyu: 'Wrong time for him, right time for me'
Former jr. middleweight titlist arrives in Australia with message for hometown star; Plus: Crawford-Rocha ordered; Broner free agent again; Anderson, Davis foes official; Quick hits; Show & tell
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Former junior middleweight titleholder Tony Harrison and his team arrived in Sydney, Australia on Monday morning with a message for Tim Tszyu.
“I feel amazing. Tim called me at the right time — wrong time for him, right time for me,” Harrison said to reporters who met him at the airport. “I think for Tim I’m a step a little bit too far.”
Harrison made his first trip to Australia to face hometown favorite Tszyu for the vacant WBO interim junior middleweight title on March 12 (March 11 on Showtime in the United States) at Qudos Bank Arena in Tszyu’s hometown of Sydney.
Detroit’s Harrison, who has had four other bouts away from the U.S. — three in Germany and one in Switzerland — said he will not be unnerved by the massive crowd support for Tszyu, who is the son of Hall of Fame former undisputed junior welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu.
“I’m looking for the hostility,” Harrison said. “I’m ready for the hostility to be honest. If they love Tim, they’re gonna love me. They have no choice. I’m the total opposite of Tim. I’m vibrant; I got a lot of humility. He’s quiet. If they like him, they’re gonna love me.”
The fight was made last month because Tszyu’s mandatory title shot against undisputed champion Jermell Charlo scheduled to take place on Jan. 28 in Las Vegas in the main event of a Showtime card was canceled after Charlo fractured his left hand in two places during a sparring session.
With Charlo likely out until the summer, the WBO sanctioned the interim title bout with Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs), 32, of Houston, obligated to face the Tszyu-Harrison winner upon his return. So, while waiting for Charlo, Tszyu (21-0, 15 KOs), 28, elected to gamble his position as the mandatory challenger by facing Harrison (29-3-1, 21 KOs), 32, who is the only man to defeat Charlo. Harrison did so by unanimous decision to win the WBC title in December 2018. Charlo stopped Harrison in the 11th round in a rematch one year later.
Harrison, of course, would love a rubber match with Charlo for all the belts, but said he will not look past Tszyu.
“The first task at hand is Tim,” Harrison said. “I’m not overlooking Tim. I talk my shit but Tim is tough competitor. I’m looking forward to a rough and tough fight. I’m looking for 12 good rounds or shorter. I’ve trained for the long haul. I know I have a tough competitor in front of me, fighting in front of his fans and family.
“Come March 12 you’re all in for a rude awakening. I believe in me. I know what I’ve been through. I know who I’ve trained with. I know who I trained against. I know who I sparred with. I know the miles I put in. I believe in me.”
The WBO on Monday ordered welterweight titleholder Terence Crawford, viewed by some as boxing’s pound-for-pound king, and mandatory challenger Alexis Rocha to fight next.
The WBO sent a letter to Crawford representative Ish Hinson, an agent at CAA, and Rocha promoter Eric Gomez of Golden Boy notifying them that they have 20 days to make a deal or a purse bid will be ordered.
The minimum bid if the fight goes to a purse bid is $200,000, although it would likely go for far more. Either side can request a purse bid at any time if they elect not to negotiate.
Crawford (39-0, 30 KOs), 35, who remains a promotional free agent since the end of his Top Rank deal following a knockout of Shawn Porter in a mandatory defense in November 2021, has only fought once since, a sixth-round knockout of David Avanesyan this past December. That fight was a one-fight deal Crawford did with BLK Prime for a pay-per-view event that took place in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.
Knowing Rocha (22-1, 14 KOs), 25, of Sana Ana, California, was his mandatory challenger, Crawford met with Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya, Gomez and shareholder Bernard Hopkins about the possibility of working together. The meeting took place late last month. After the meeting Crawford attended Rocha’s seventh-round knockout of George Ashie on Jan. 28 in the main event of a DAZN show at the YouTube Theater in Inglewood, California.
Broner splits from BLK Prime
The three-fight, supposed eight-figure deal between former four-division titlist Adrien Broner and BLK Prime didn’t even last for one fight. Broner announced via a social media video on Sunday that that they have parted ways.
“Good afternoon, y’all. It’s a great Sunday,” Broner said. “I’m just going to come out and let everybody know. Me and BLK Prime have decided to part ways. There is no bad blood. They just couldn’t deliver everything that I needed at this point of my career.
“Right now I am in tip-top shape. I got myself in shape. I dropped all of my vices. I’m not clubbing. I’m not drinking. I’m ready to fight, so hit me up, man. Hit me up. AB is a free agent, man. Let’s do this. Like I said, man, I’m ready to fight today. Anybody can get it. The ‘Can Man’ is back.”
Broner (34-4-1, 24 KOs), 33, of Cincinnati, split from PBC’s Al Haymon and Showtime before signing with BLK Prime last fall with the promise of three bouts over 12 months. He was due kick off the deal in the headliner of a pay-per-view card against Michael Williams Jr. in a 10-round welterweight bout this past Saturday at the Gateway Center in Atlanta.
However, Williams suffered a broken jaw sparring a little over a week before the fight and the card was canceled. He was already the third opponent after Ivan Redkach and Hank Lundy both were forced out due to promotional contract issues not related to BLK Prime.
Broner is 1-2-1 in his last four fights, has not fought since February 2021 and has had legal and mental health issues as he looks to get his career back on track. He was scheduled to fight former lightweight titlist Omar Figueroa Jr. on Showtime on Aug. 20 but pulled out of the junior welterweight bout five days beforehand, claiming mental health issues.
Anderson, Davis foes official
Heavyweight Jared Anderson, the 2021 Fight Freaks Unite prospect of the year, and lightweight Keyshawn Davis, the 2022 FFU prospect of the year, had their opponents for their April 8 bouts made official by Top Rank on Monday.
Anderson (13-0, 13 KOs), 23, of Toledo, Ohio, will face George Arias (18-0, 7 KOs), 31, a Dominican Republic native fighting out of Bronx, New York, in the 10-round co-feature of the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card (ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN+, 10 p.m. ET) headlined by former featherweight and junior lightweight titlist Shakur Stevenson versus Japan’s Shuichiro Yoshino in a WBC lightweight eliminator at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, Stevenson’s hometown.
“This is the kind of fight I’ve been waiting for, a big fight between two undefeated heavyweights,” Anderson said. “I’m excited to once again be fighting on the same card as Shakur Stevenson.”
Davis (7-0, 5 KOs), 23, a 2020 U.S. Olympic silver medalist from Norfolk, Virginia, will face former junior welterweight title challenger and former European champion Anthony Yigit (26-2-1, 10 KOs), 31, a southpaw from Sweden, in the 10-round opener.
“The Newark fans showed me so much love last time, and I can’t wait to give them another special performance,” Davis said, referencing a fifth-round knockout of Omar Tineda on a Stevenson undercard at the arena in September. “I’m going to make Yigit regret taking this fight. He’s been in the ring with some good fighters, but I’m on another level.”
Yigit has faced top opposition but lost by seventh-round knockout challenging Ivan Baranchyk for the vacant IBF junior welterweight title in 2018 and suffered a seventh-round knockout to Rolly Romero in a WBA interim title fight in 2021, after which he dropped down to lightweight and has won two in a row.
“I’m excited to get back into the mix. Huge respect to Keyshawn for taking this fight but he’s young. Too young,” Yigit said. “He’s fast, I’m fast. He’s strong, I’m strong. He’s an Olympian, I’m an Olympian. My edge is my experience. I’m going to use it.”
After Subriel Matias (19-1, 19 KOs), 30, of Puerto Rico, knocked out Jeremias Ponce to win the vacant IBF junior welterweight title Saturday night in Minneapolis he called for a unification bout with WBC counterpart Regis Prograis, who won that vacant belt in November. “Regis Prograis, I’m coming for you,” Matias said. “I’m the world champion now. I promise that I’m coming to hurt you. Prograis likes to talk the talk, but I have that same mentality. Let’s see who prevails. I want him to see that there are people crazier than him in this sport.” Prograis, never known to duck a tough fight, welcomed the bout. Responding the call out, Prograis (28-1, 24 KOs), 34, a southpaw from New Orleans, posted to social media, “Congratulations champ. Hope to see you one day.”
Golden Boy on Monday won a purse bid for the fight between WBO strawweight titlist Melvin Jerusalem (20-2, 12 KOs), 28, of the Philippines, and mandatory challenger Oscar Collazo (6-0, 4 KOs), 26, of Puerto Rico. Golden Boy, which is Collazo’s co-promoter with Cotto Promotions, bid $152,000. The only other offer was $101,000 by Kameda Promotions. The bid was initially scheduled for Feb. 23 but delayed for a few days. Golden Boy gave the WBO May 27 as the proposed fight date and listed San Juan, Los Angeles or Dallas as possible sites. Minimum bid was $80,000. The split of the winning bid depends on where a fight takes place. A neutral site means 75-25 in Jerusalem’s favor. If it’s in Puerto Rico it’s 80-20 in his favor. Signed contracts are due back to the WBO within five days of a purse bid.
Former junior featherweight and bantamweight titlist Guillermo Rigondeaux (21-3, 14 KOs), the 42-year-old Miami-based Cuban southpaw and two-time Olympic gold medalist, returned from a one-year layoff nearly to the day on Friday night and knocked out Colombian southpaw Jesus Martinez (33-18-1, 16 KOs), 42, in the first round of a bantamweight bout at Hialeah Park in Hialeah, Florida. Rigondeaux ended a two-fight losing skid and time off following what could have been a career-ending injury. He suffered severe facial burns and eye injuries in a freak kitchen accident caused by a pressure cooker he was using exploding in his face.
Former WBA featherweight titleholder Nicholas Walters (27-1-1, 21 KOs), 37, of Jamaica, walked always from boxing after quitting in the seventh round challenging then-junior lightweight titleholder Vasyl Lomachenko in November 2016 and occasionally talked about a comeback. He finally made one on Saturday night after being out of action for more than six years. Walters won an eight-round decision over Luis Diaz Marmol (19-17, 11 KOs), 29, in Santa Marta, Colombia, Marmol’s home country. Scores were 80-72, 78-74 and 78-74. At his peak, Walters scored back-to-back KO wins against Vic Darchinyan and Nonito Donaire in 2014 featherweight title bouts.
Show and tell
It was a battle for lightweight supremacy as Juan Manuel Marquez, the lineal 135-pound champion, traveled to former unified titlist Juan Diaz’s hometown of Houston for a fight everyone expected to produce fireworks. They delivered big time, even exceeding expectations, in a sensational action fight that headlined an HBO card that I covered at ringside at the Toyota Center.
Ultimately, Marquez scored a blistering ninth-round knockout to retain the lineal title and win the vacant WBO and WBA belts for good measure. It stood up as the fight of the year and it happened on Feb. 28, 2009 — 14 years ago on Tuesday. Here is a scarce thin cardboard site poster in my collection.
Harrison photo: No Limit Boxing; Crawford, De La Hoya, Hopkins photo: Golden Boy; Broner photo: Jose Pineiro/Showtime
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Goddamn what a fight Marquez/Diaz 1 was. Will never forget those guys going toe to toe in the first round. Diaz showed his toughness and grit, but that shoe shining style was never going to get it done against an all timer like JMM.
Matias was excellent against Ponce - he showed great technique and toughness.
If I was Matias' manager I would try to make a unification with WBA 140lb champ Alberto Puello.
Puello is also a PBC fighter and so there's no promotional issues and if Matias won, which I think is very likely, having two of the 140lb world titles would probably be more likely to attract Prograis, the WBC champ.