Tony Harrison was very gracious after suffering the first loss of his career against Willie Nelson in the PBC on ESPN co-feature. It was obviously frustrating for Harrison to lose, but what probably makes things harder to accept is the fact that he was ahead comfortably on the scorecards prior to getting knocked out in the ninth.
Harrison went down hard after Nelson landed several clean punches in a row, but he made it to his feet before the 10 count. However, it was clear that Harrison did not have his wits about him and looked badly hurt.
The ref gave Harrison an opportunity to prove his capacity to continue, but he could not and the fight was waved off. In an interview with Nestor Gibbs of Thaboxingvoice.com, Harrison said that he felt ready to continue, but accepted defeat by stating Nelson was “the better man tonight.”
“I thought I was controlling the fight. I looked at the scorecards; I was winning the whole fight, but that’s boxing for you. That’s why it’s the toughest sport in the world. He hit me with a great shot right behind my head. I feel like I got up, it was more like a flash knockdown. I knew exactly what was going on,” Harrison told Tha Boxing Voice.
It is hard for any young fighter to suffer their first defeat, but Harrison proved he is a class act by giving Nelson credit after the fight. Things became very heated between the two fighters during fight week and to see them show sportsmanship was refreshing, but for Harrison to be humble in a loss under the circumstances proves his maturity. But that doesn’t mean he is fine with settling their in-ring with just one fight.
“All credit goes to Willie. Willie, I hope you go wherever you want to go from here. I will bounce back. I want another fight with Willie. I hope you don’t think this the end of me. This don’t sit well with me.
Gibbs interviewed Harrison in his dressing room after the fight and he was visibly upset, not emotional, but the loss was, like he said, not sitting well with him.
He wants a rematch, and now we get to see just how powerful Al Haymon truly is because Nelson is not a PBC fighter under the Haymon umbrella. Nelson expects the same things Harrison would’ve expected had he got the victory, and that’s bigger and richer fights.
Nelson, who is managed by Cameron Dunkin, is hoping to capitalize off of this victory, and rightfully so. That said, Harrison told Tha Boxing Voice that a rematch will be the topic of his next conversation with Al.
“I’m going to talk to Al. I’m going to tell him I want an immediate rematch. I want to immediately get back in the ring with Willie Nelson. When I talk to Al I’m going to tell him I want the rematch immediately, like yesterday.”
In the video interview published on Tha Boxing Voice’s YouTube channel, Gibbs mentioned to Harrison that the rematch makes sense because of the comeback nature of Nelson’s win and the overall competitiveness of the fight. Gibbs is right. Based on the nature of the fight, a rematch makes perfect sense.
However, a rematch would represent a step back for Nelson and he has no real reason to grant the request. If Haymon can make the rematch happen for his fighter then it will be a true display of power and influence. If he can persuade Nelson to fight Harrison again, even if Haymon has to offer up one of his bigger stars at junior middleweight as incentive, then we will have a real example of the power Haymon wields.