On Saturday, December 21st, the Toyota Arena in Ontario, California plays host to a rematch of the big 2018 upset of Jermell Charlo (32-1, 16 KOs) by Tony Harrison (28-2, 21 KOs).
Jermell Charlo won the vacant WBC super-welterweight title with a KO of John Jackson in 2016 and followed with three defenses before unexpectedly losing it to Harisson last December. With Harrison coming off of a split decision win over 40-year-old Ishe Smith and having lost by KO to Jarrett Hurd (whom Charlo stopped in a round) in his only prior title shot, not many were giving Harrison a shot to beat the undefeated Charlo.
Charlo likes exchanges where the left hook, his best punch, allows him to shine, but isn’t fond of leading and is at his best with an opponent willing to come after him. When he has to lead, he mostly uses wide right hands that tend to be a bit sloppy to close the distance. Harrison perfectly gameplanned for that flaw in the first fight, electing to use a higher guard than he usually does, which hampered his left hook but neutralized the threat of Charlo’s right hands. He then sat behind his jab and let Charlo come to him. Charlo struggled to adapt and spent most of the night following Harrison around the ring and eating jabs. Despite a late rally by Charlo, Harrison ended up taking a close and controversial unanimous decision.
Since the first fight, Charlo picked up a quick KO win over Jorge Cota while Harrison has been inactive due to injury. The rematch hinges on whether Charlo can learn from the first fight and work on cutting off the ring to force Harrison into exchanges. Twelve years into his career, I’m not sure those are adjustments he can make and since there’s no reason for Harrison to change the gameplan, I’m picking him to repeat the first fight with another decision win.
Cuban great Guillermo Rigondeaux was scheduled to face Liborio Solis for the WBA bantamweight title in the co-main event but visa issues for Solis has forced the fight to be postponed. Instead the fight between Nigerian heavyweight prospect and 2016 Olympian Efe Ajagba (11-0, 9 KOs) and Iago Kiladze (26-4-1, 18 KOs) has been promoted to co-feature status. Efe Ajagba hasn’t had as much buzz as 2016 medalists like Tony Yoka, Joe Joyce or Filip Hrgovic. but at 25 he’s younger than all of them and has looked very solid thus far in his career. Kiladze is a former cruiserweight and suffered three KOs in a row at heavyweight in 2018 so he isn’t too likely to be conscious by the end of the fight. However, he’s gone at least five rounds in these three losses so he might provide an opportunity for Ejagba (who has fought longer than two rounds only twice) to get a few rounds in.
Main Card – FOX – 8:00pm ET / 5:00pm PT
Tony Harrison vs. Jermell Charlo, WBC superwelterweight title.
Efe Ajagba vs. Iago Kiladze
Karlos Balderas vs. René Téllez Giron
Preliminary Card – FOX Sports 1 – 6:00pm ET / 3:00pm PT
Hugo Centeno Jr. vs. Juan Macias Montiel
Jhack Tepora vs. Oscar Escandon
Andre Dirrell vs. Juan Ubaldo Cabrera
Eimantas Stanionis vs. Juan Ubaldo Cabrera
Adrian Taylor vs. Dustin Long
Anthony Flagg vs. Jamarcus Warren
Raymond Guajardo vs. Donnis Reed
Justin Cardona vs. Archie Weah