Detroit native misses out on becoming first fighter to stop Smith, but still scores important win
Tony Harrison promised to become the first fighter to stop former 154-pound champion Ishe Smith.
While he came close, the Detroit native had to settle for a less satisfying split decision win in a Bounce TV-televised main event from Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall in Las Vegas.
Harrison escaped horrible judging—but just barely—winning by scores of 97-92 and 96-93, which overruled a 95-94 score in favor of Smith, the first Las Vegas-born world champion.
“I thought I could’ve put a lot more shots together offensively. Ishe is a vet and he showed it each and every round,” Harrison said. “Each round that I thought I could stop him, he came back. I just had to put the pressure on him a little more.”
Harrison (27-2, 21 knockouts) scored an official knockdown in the third round following a one-two combination that buckled Smith’s legs to the point that you’d think Matrix moves are all that could have kept him from touching the canvas. Referee Tony Weeks ruled it a knockdown but multiple replays show that Smith’s knee didn't quite touch the canvas.
It wouldn’t be the last time Harrison had Smith (29-10, 12 KOs) hurt, but he often fought like a video game boxer with a busted stamina bar. He staggered Smith at the end of the sixth and went for it, but ultimately let Smith off the hook when Weeks was looking to jump in.
He also hurt Smith again badly in the eighth round, landing an alarmingly high amount of power shots. If you didn’t already know Smith was tough as hell, he waved on more from Harrison—who didn't oblige.
Harrison seemed content to run out the clock in the ninth and tenth when he could have probably pressed and become the first fighter to stop Smith. His lack of willingness to force it in the late rounds is understandable when you remember this is a guy who was twice stopped in the ninth round.