Nearly a year ago, Jermell “Ironman” Charlo (32-1, 16 KOs) lost his WBC Junior Middleweight strap in a widely disputed unanimous decision loss to Tony Harrison (28-2, 21 KOs).
As the final bell rang, most believed Charlo had done enough to retain his title. However, as the scores were read it was revealed that the judges had viewed the fight much differently than the majority of viewers.
Charlo, who was confident he had the fight won, looked shocked when Harrison was announced as the winner. Almost immediately, talks of a rematch began right there in the ring.
During the in-ring interview directly following the fight, Harrison stated that he’d be happy to give Charlo a shot at a rematch.
Charlo didn’t respond kindly to this invitation, and in this moment, the respect each man had earned from the other in the fight was lost.
“He knows I won that fight,” said Charlo. “He told me!”
The reality was that although Charlo may have deserved to earn a victory, a fighter of his caliber and stature was expected to do more against Harrison.
Going into the fight, Harrison was viewed as little more than a B-side by the general public.
Previously, he lost in his only attempt at a world title against Jarrett Hurd. In that fight, Harrison was leading on the scorecards, prior to getting finished in the ninth round by the former champion.
To the Detroit native’s credit, he boxed well from the outside, regularly landing jabs to keep the champ at bay.
Harrison’s outside game proved problematic for Charlo, preventing him from doing any severe damage throughout the majority of the contest. Some believed Harrison had won, discrediting Charlo’s pressure as being ineffective.
Since then, the rematch (originally scheduled for June) has grown in stature with every delay and every verbal blow thrown. Every moment that precedes the bout adds to a story that was supposed to begin and end in a singular one-sided affair.
Charlo viewed Harrison pulling out of the originally scheduled rematch as a sign of weakness, simply delaying the inevitable. Charlo annihilated the replacement fighter, Jorge Cota, claiming the beating should have been for Harrison.
“Tony Harrison brought the animal out of me,” said Charlo. “That’s the wrong thing to do.”
Meanwhile, Harrison is eager to show the world, and Charlo, that the first fight was not a fluke.
“I don’t [care about the belt],” said Harrison. “I’m doing this again to prove to him that I’m the better fighter.”
Each fighter shares a demeanor of an individual convinced of their own superiority and eagerness to expose the other for being fraudulent.
In a sport of promotionally manufactured feuds and intrigue, Harrison and Charlo represent authenticity in their self-assuredness and disdain for the other.
On December 21, both men will look to prove themselves right. Only one will be validated.