Willie Nelson was all smiles after his 9th round stoppage over the previously unbeaten Tony Harrison in the co-feature of PBC’s debut on ESPN. And, in a somewhat unprecedented move, Nelson thanked… Cameron Dunkin?
That’s right, Nelson thanked his manager Cameron Dunkin, and rightfully so. After all, powerful manager/advisor Al Haymon has been thanked countless times by the numerous fighters he represents following their wins (and losses). It was refreshing to hear a different name being thanked, although Dunkin is a respectable promoter and has been thanked plenty of times.
Nelson was the slight underdog in most people’s mind, but there weren’t many that actually picked him to win the fight. Harrison entered the fight as the built-up fighter ready to cement his position with a win over Nelson, and he had plenty of success in the fight. Nelson was willing to give Harrison his props after the fight, even though both fighters become very hostile towards one another at Thursday’s presser, and offered some encouraging words for Harrison.
“This is the third undefeated fighter that I took their ‘0.’ A guy on Twitter called me a prospect killer, but I’m not going to say that because Tony Harrison, he got  fights now, I’m pretty sure he passed prospect. He just hasn’t faced great opposition. He’s a great young kid, still got a great future ahead of him. One loss don’t mean nothing. He was just in with a legit contender tonight.”
The win was definitely earned in comeback fashion with Nelson behind on the cards. Nelson earned the stoppage in dramatic fashion, but the comeback was only part of the surprise. Heading into the bout, it was Harrison who was considered the heavy-handed puncher. And as Nelson pointed out, many of the boxing media didn’t give his power any real consideration.
In fact, Nelson predicted the KO victory in his hotel room when he was speaking with a friend of his the night before the fight. He admits that his performance was lacking early on, but he will leave the constant criticism to the boxing media who he feels will come up with another reason to doubt him in future fights.
“I felt I could’ve picked it up a whole lot more. I told everybody what I wanted to do, take him to deep waters and drown him, and that’s exactly what I did. I just paced myself. I felt I was a little too relaxed. I’m not sure if it was because of my confidence level. I knew I was going to catch him.”
Nelson will have to wait and see what this win will get him in terms of bigger fish. As previously mentioned, he is not represented by Haymon and so it is no guarantee that we will see him on PBC next.
Still, you have to assume that Haymon will want to capitalize off of this win in some fashion, even if he doesn’t represent Nelson he still has plenty of 154lb fighters in need of opposition. But the good thing for Nelson is this win has given him options.
“I don’t do no name callings. I want every world champ in the 154lb weight division. I’ll take whoever it is. My job is to win the fans, win my fights, and position myself for world titles and bigger money.”