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Tony Harrison Full of Confidence Ahead of Tszyu Clash

(Photo via Daily Telegraph)

Former 154lb champion Tony Harrison has arrived in Australia ahead of his March 12th (March 11th in the US) showdown with Tim Tszyu (21-0, 15 KOs). He sat down with Main Event’s Ben Damon for Fox Sports Australia to answer a number of questions before he competes for the WBO “interim” junior middleweight title this weekend in enemy territory.

When undisputed ruler of the division Jermell Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs) was forced to pull out of his January 28th bout with Tszyu due to a broken hand, Harrison took to Twitter to let it be known that he was willing to step in as a replacement opponent. In the interview he admitted that he didn’t think he would get the opportunity, but now that he has he gives Tszyu credit for taking on a challenge like this when he has an undisputed title shot coming up.

Harrison was eager to get this chance, but questioned the move and felt that it was too risky of a proposition for Tszyu. Though he believes Tszyu’s management made a mistake, he spoke on how these are the type of decisions that need to be made in boxing more. He preached the “old school mentality” and feels Tszyu shares the same ideology.

“For Tim to take on the only person to beat – the person that he want[s] to go get the four belts from, and the most dangerous person in the division. I’m really like, ‘Who’s grabbing their balls over there?’ Somebody grabbing their balls and I’m patting them on the back because that was stupid.”

“It’s stupid in the sense of business; it’s courageous in the sense of boxing”

“That’s the reason why I got in it, to be a warrior and a gladiator in the sport of boxing. You know, I mean, the gladiator part is fight. We must fight to see who’s the best; we must fight. It’s not about money, it’s not about who’s got the most fame, the most likes, the most Instagram followers. It’s about fighting, and Tim is the exact example of old school fighting. I come from old school fighting and he’s the exact example of old school fighters. This is what old school fighters did – they fought each other”.

He gave Tszyu his flowers and acknowledged that he is tough and always comes to fight, but also that he has some flaws his previous opponents haven’t been able to take advantage of. He believes that Tszyu has had a much easier road to the top and that his promotional backing helped get him to this level.

“I think he’s an excellent example of Australia. I think he’s a tough competitor; I think he’s balls to the wall. I think he’s balls to the wall for sure. I think win, lose, or draw you’ll get the best Tim in and out every time he steps in that ring. But I do think he’s a flawed Tim. I do think he hasn’t faced any level of opposition. I don’t even know how he got here for Jermell to be honest.”

“What steps did he take to get there? You know what I mean, like, I fought guys like Hurd, and Charlo. I was lining up to fight Fundora. So to get there my road was expensive, like I had to spend a lot to get to my road back to Jermell. How did he get there? You know what I mean? He beat Jeff Horn. He beat Hogan. How did he get there? It just lets you know that everything is political, man.”

Harrison made it known during the interview how Tszyu’s past opponents were good stylistic matchups for him because they stood right in front of him. He will be the most skilled boxer that Tim has ever been in the ring with, and prides himself on mastering the ability to hit and not get hit.

“If that’s all you have to offer to win a fight with Tony Harrison is I’m going to be tougher than him, and I’m going to take him into deep water and drown him, you got to know how to swim. You better know how to swim.”

“Against Tony Harrison, you got to dig a little deeper, though. I’m in a whole different kind of bag … I’m not one of those guys that parades myself as being one of the toughest. That ain’t even me. That’s not even a trophy that’s on my mantle. Throw that shit away.”

“He does nothing of high level to me: no high level defense, no high level footwork, no high level head movement, no high level offense, no setting up shots. He just go, he’s just like a NASCAR driver, full speed ahead … That’s what I mean by basic, but tough basic.”

Tony was one of the last fighters that the legendary Emmanuel Steward got to work with, and he spoke in this interview about how Steward inspired him to become a trainer in addition to being an active boxer. He joked about how Steward would most likely “cuss him out” for training current undisputed 130lb champion Alycia Baumgardner (14-1, 7 KOs) while he was still active, but he made it clear that it helps him stay level-headed and keeps him motivated.

“Great trainers live forever. Fighters? They kind of temporary, man, so for me, I just wanted, I want to live forever. I want my knowledge to be lived on forever, not as a fighter but just as a teacher.”

“I find peace and joy in training people, and seeing her become successful last night, (interview was done on February 5th but not uploaded until two weeks ago) you know what I did immediately after I watched her be successful? I went for a run. That’s motivation for me; that’s the kind of motivation I need around me. Going into one of the biggest fights of my life, I needed that. I needed to see her hoist every single belt.”

Though Tim doesn’t have a great relationship with his father Kosta, the two names will always be mentioned together and they were in this interview as well. Harrison had high praise for the former undisputed 140lb champion. He doesn’t see Tim being on the same level as his father, but admits that this weekend we will find out if he indeed is.

“Kosta Tszyu was a beast. Kosta Tszyu was a fucking beast, and he came over here and he proved that he was a beast. He fought Zab. He proved that he was a beast man.”

“I think he’s short of his dad, but to figure it out you call out me and that’s the perfect way to figure it out. I think he figures it out the right way, but the wrong way. I think he called out the wrong fighter, but you got to figure it out, dude.”

I always enjoy listening to Tony Harrison speak. He is one of the most eloquent talkers in the game, and it is always great to see fighters open up and be comfortable outside of the ring. I respect the journey he has endured to get to where he is today, and wish him nothing but the best. His father, who was also his head trainer, passed away in 2020 from covid. Tony spoke about how his main focus is to provide for his family and give his children a better life than he had growing up.

“I’m all about securing my own legacy for my own family. You know, my legacy is not for boxing. My legacy is to feed my family and make sure my kids don’t go through what I went through to get here.”

He has fought twice since his father’s death. Although he struggled in his first fight without his father when he drew with Bryant Perella (17-3-2, 14 KOs) in April of 2021, he looked like the old Tony Harrison in an impressive display his last time out against Sergio Garcia (33-2, 14 KOs) eleven months ago. Garcia had just lost a close decision to Sebastian Fundora in his previous outing . Harrison came in the underdog, but reminded everyone that he still was a major problem for anyone at 154lbs.

Will Tony put on a boxing lesson and earn a trilogy fight with Jermell Charlo for undisputed? Or, will the pressure and grit of the younger and fresher Tszyu be too much for him? Tune in Saturday night at 10:45pm EST on Showtime to find out. Charlo will be featured on the broadcast as a guest commentator, and it will be interesting to hear what he has to say considering he is set to face the winner later this year.

Down below I have included the interview if you have not seen it and are interested in doing so. If you are a fight fan, I highly recommend watching and getting inside the head of one of boxing’s most polarizing personalities.

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Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly