Let’s talk about knockout power for a minute. Tony Harrison has shown it at 78 percent clip in his 23 fights. Fernando Guerrero has put ’em to sleep in 65 percent of his 31 tilts. Guerrero also has been stopped three times, though, and Harrison has once.
Point being: Saturday's scheduled 10-round fight at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) sure doesn’t seem like it’s going to last all 10.
If Tony Harrison (22-1, 18 KOs) is going to overcome Fernando Guerrero (28-3, 20 KOs) and get back on track as one of the rising stars in his division, he’s going to have to overcome two things: One is a four-month layoff, and the other is fighting an experienced southpaw who has competed for a world title.
“Most of the fights I lost as an amateur came to southpaws. I just want to get out there and break the curse,” Harrison said. “You want to go to the left, you want to throw right hands a lot. I'm very comfortable with leading with my right hand. I'm very comfortable throwing it more than my jab. We worked on a lot of straight right hands to the body.”
From March 2013 until last summer, Harrison stopped 10 consecutive opponents. Then came his July loss to Willie Nelson in Tampa, Florida. After that, the Detroit native took a 10-round decision over Cecil McCalla on Halloween night in his fourth fight of the year, but he’s been idle since.
So there’s some rust to overcome, yes. And there’s that desire to get back to the face-flattening ways that elevated his status in the 154-pound division.
“I always had the power, but that knockout streak was when I was at an all-time high in confidence," Harrison said. "Once I lost the fight to Willie Nelson, it just broke the confidence of me knocking everybody out. Now my camp and I have refocused our energy. I'm looking for a one-punch knockout.”
He'll do so against Guerrero, who gained a seventh-round TKO of Daniel Souza Santos in November in his last fight. In his only other bout in 2015, Guerrero won a 10-round split decision over Abraham Han in April.
At Friday's weigh-in, Harrison came in at 156.2 while Guerrero was 156.6, both under the agreed-upon 157-pound limit.
Headlining Saturday's card is Julian Williams, who with a win over Marcello Matano would be in line to fight 154-pound world champion Jermall Charlo. Harrison, along with Williams and Charlo—all 25 years old—are part of a major youth movement at 154, a generation that could rule the division for years to come. Harrison knows that a win over Guerrero can help re-establish him as a major player and put him back on the path toward a world title opportunity.
Harrison says that if Williams gets past Matano and secures his bout against Charlo, he wouldn't mind fighting on the same card. He even mentioned Charlo's twin brother, Jermell, an unbeaten 154-pound contender, as a possible opponent.
“[The Charlos are] good guys," Harrison said. "I got the opportunity to fight on the [October 31] card with [Jermell]. We chopped it up. He was an amazing guy. We talked about us fighting. We both said business was business. If the fight was to ever come, he would take it and I would, too.”
Guerrero is not to be overlooked, though. The 29-year-old Dominican-born fighter who now trains in Southern California owns a victory over onetime 154-pound titleholder Ishe Smith in July 2010, and two of his three defeats were to former world champions Peter Quillin and David Lemieux.
“I have that warrior mentality where every time I’ve gotten dropped, I’ve gotten back up and either won the fight or tried to win,” said Guerrero, who has competed at 160 for most of his career. “The bottom line is that I have a more proven history than Tony does, and I think he has some questions about himself. So my job is to just go in there and pound on him and beat the crap out of him.”