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5:04 AM ET
Dan RafaelESPN Senior Writer
- 2013 BWAA Nat Fleischer Award winner for excellence in boxing journalism
- ESPN.com boxing writer since 2005
- Five years at USA Today
Jermell Charlo and Tony Harrison talked trash as well as any duo that I can think of in recent years in the leadup to their junior middleweight world title rematch Saturday night.
Even after Charlo prevailed by 11th-round knockout to regain the 154-pound belt, their emotions were still raw.
Despite their very personal words during the buildup, Charlo went over to Harrison’s corner after the fight to shake his hand. Harrison said before the bout he had no respect for Charlo and didn’t know if he would shake his hand afterward. He did so, however grudgingly, and told him “good fight.”
“I’m a gentleman at the end of the day. I got a family to feed and so does he. I was victorious. May the best man win,” Charlo said. “So I showed my respect as good sportsmanship, but at the end of the day I don’t like the dude. Period.”
Now they are 1-1 after a pair of compelling fights. For my money, a tiebreaking trilogy bout is a natural, especially if Charlo can’t land a unification bout with the winner of the upcoming fight between unified titlist Julian “J Rock” Williams and Jeison Rosario, who meet on Jan. 18 in Williams’ hometown of Philadelphia.
Charlo versus the Williams-Rosario winner should be relatively easy to make if the fighters want it, because they are with PBC. Still, I’d like to see Charlo-Harrison III.
“He can get it again, but I’m off to bigger and better things,” Charlo said. “I’m down for making history. He held the title too long and I had to come back and get it.”
At the time of the stoppage, Charlo led 96-93 on two scorecards and Harrison was up 95-94 on the third. Knockdowns aside, it was a very close, competitive fight. In terms of the CompuBox statistics, Charlo landed 127 punches, Harrison 121. They were within two landed punches of each other in eight of the 11 rounds. It was that close.
“I wanted to score the knockout [because of] all the s— he was talking, everything he was saying,” Charlo said.
Harrison would like a tiebreaker, and by most any measure, he deserves it.
“It’s 1-1. Hopefully, we do it again,” he said. “Got to go back to the drawing board, tighten a few things up.”
When they both appeared together at the post-fight news conference, they shared another handshake and even a hug.
“Despite all the s— talk, he’s a funny dude,” Charlo said. “I started enjoying the s— just listening to Tony. He’s crazy. We all crazy. I respect any man that gets in the ring.”
Charlo said he would prefer a unification fight in 2020, but also said he was open to a third fight with Harrison and that “we could take it to pay-per-view.”
Detroit’s Harrison (28-3, 21 KOs), 29, said there is still ill will between them, another reason a third fight makes sense.
“It’s not water under the bridge,” he said of the bad feelings. “I would love to do it one more time.”
But he did give Charlo (33-1, 17 KOs), 29, of Houston, credit for winning.
“You can’t be lax for one second of one round and that’s what happened. I got lax for one second of one round,” Harrison said. “He hooked, I hooked. His s— was a little shorte
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