Tony Harrison primed for bout with ‘tough’ Tim Tszyu, eyes third fight with Jermell Charlo

Tony Harrison respects opponent Tim Tszyu’s fighting spirit even if he doesn’t think much of his skill set or resume.

Harrison, who faces his fellow 154-pound contender on Saturday (Sunday in Australia) in Sydney, was impressed with Tszyu’s ability to get up from a first-round knockdown to defeat Terrell Gausha by a clear decision in March of last year.

That kind of resilience, the veteran from Detroit said, can take a fighter a long way even if he’s not a polished technician.

Harrison described Tszyu as “just a tough guy.”

“I can’t really grade him on nothing else but being tough because I think that’s the only thing he brings to the table, being tough,” he said. “I think he’s a guy who prides himself on being tough, prides himself on being in shape, which is two good attributes to be successful in any fight. I don’t grade him as a guy I have to outthink.

“I think he showed championship grit to get up off the ground, off the mat [against Gausha]. For him to get off the mat and be successful, I think that says a lot about who he is as a fighter.”

Harrison (29-3-1, 21 KOs) has a much deeper resume than Tszyu. That includes two meetings with current undisputed champion Jermell Charlo, who he outpointed to win the WBC title in 2018 and then lost it by knockout in a rematch the following year.

He believes the Gausha fight was his opponent’s only significant test. He has even questioned whether he earned a meeting with Charlo, who he was set to fight in January. Charlo had to pull out when he broke his hand in training, which opened the door for the fight in Sydney.

“That was his first test ever in fighting,” Harrision said of the Gausha bout. “I think we got to gauge at least his contendership that he brings to the table because other than Terrell I don’t think he ever fought anyone notable enough to say, ‘You’re the next champion, you’re the next world champion, you’re the next undisputed champion.'”

Of course, a victory over Harrison would bolster Tszyu’s resume and his championship credentials. The winner of the fight, for the WBC’s “interim” title, is expected to challenge Charlo next.

Harrison plans to spoil the Aussie’s plans. He expects to become the mandatory challenger by handing Tszyu his first setback and getting his a rubber match with his rival, another “tough” fighter for whom he has tremendous respect.

He has his own place in boxing and legacy to think about.

“Tough and all I just think that’s literally where I need to be,” he said of a potential third fight with Charlo. “I need to do that again. The people need to see it again, I need to do it again, we need to do it again. … My whole game plan is betting on myself. I just know I’m better than half of these guys when it comes to skill.

“You can be stronger, you can be tougher, you can be faster, but I just feel I’m better skilled than all of them. I gotta get that back. My whole motivation to myself is, ‘I gotta get that back.’ I know [Charlo] wouldn’t do it voluntarily so I gotta do it involuntarily.”


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Story originally appeared on Boxing Junkie