Keith Thurman might be the most exciting name fighting this weekend, but the co-main event of PBC’s debut on ESPN has officially stolen all of Saturday night’s interests. Tony Harrison and Willie Nelson was a great fight from the moment it was made. It didn’t need the animosity that was created at Thursday’s press conference.
There are many questions about both fighters heading into their matchup. First, is Harrison the real deal? I mean, his power is legitimate, but he hasn’t faced the kind of opposition that makes us believe he is going to undoubtedly land that big punch on Nelson, a fighter with real athleticism and the ability to box.
With Nelson, his chin has come into question leading into this fight with such a big puncher. Nelson is a great fighter, but he is not a flawless commodity, although he says that his revamped team will make the kind of impact that is noticeable.
So, why was there hostility at the presser? Was the spilled over tension just to sell tickets? It is always a possibility, but I highly doubt it.
The truth is this fight is taking place between two of the realest individuals in the sport of boxing and what occurred on Thursday, was similar to what you see in the wild when one predator believes another predator is trying to take something that belongs to him. It is a lion fighting with a tiger over a wounded Zebra.
Now, these are two finely tuned athletes with plenty of potential, and I’m not associating them with animals, but they did grow up in the wild, Harrison especially.
Harrison has had a hard life, and he didn’t get to where he is with any breaks. He responded to Nelson in the way that he would have if he were in his old environment. Growing up in Detroit, Harrison was subjected to very dangerous surroundings with many of his family members in the drug business.
Harrison was evicted three times and eventually was taking in by his cousin, the same cousin that took his shirt off and was ready to throw down for his family at the presser. It was clear that Harrison was ready to go to blows, but he told Thaboxingvoice.com that he decided to show restraint because he didn’t want his past to dictate the man he has become today.
Still, Harrison is not the one to test, and he made that clear in his interview with Nestor Gibbs of Tha Boxing Voice
“He don’t want to see me. He don’t want to see me in the ring, and he damn sure don’t want to see me in the street, Harrison said. “I was about to show him firsthand what the f*** he getting himself into. I hope he’s as ready as he’s talking. I can’t be intimidated by someone named after a country singer.”
Nelson is no stranger to tough times, either. He has had a long road, and he is not intimated by anyone. But what made the situation so unusual was seeing a fighter like Nelson, who is usually very reserved, get heated.
However, Nelson’s frustrations aren’t actually with Harrison, at least that wasn’t the reason he lost his cool for a moment. Nelson says that he is tired of being counted out by the boxing media, and maybe those frustrations spilt over and were directed at the man he will be fighting today, the one that is favored to win.
“I ain’t gotta punk him, I’m gonna beat that ass in the ring. He doesn’t have me upset. I’m upset with the boxing writers, and that they always count me out. I already know when I beat him I’m not going to get my credit. He’s just talking. I invited him to the bathroom. We ain’t got to put on a front for everybody,” Nelson said.
In the midst of the skirmish, Nelson suggested that Harrison follow him to the bathroom where they could get it on earlier than their scheduled bout, and also out of the eye of any camera. You see, that’s the point of both of these men. They weren’t trying to impress anyone or stir up interest in the form of ticket sales or viewership. Both men were ready to duke it out for the simple fact that they need the other fighter to lose because of what it represents.
But, they are still world-class talents and knew that their reward for defeating the other can only be achieved in the ring. These two men are hungry, these two men are fearless, and when that bell sounds, it will be the most interesting boxing of the weekend on a weekend full of interesting.