There's plenty to take from Saturday's FOX PBC Fight Night card, which may have been the best of the year.
A year filled with great fights got even better Saturday night at Toyota Arena in Ontario, California, as FOX PBC Fight Night closed out their season with perhaps the best card of them all. In the main event, Jermell Charlo exacted revenge on Tony Harrison, scoring a brilliant eleventh-round TKO to regain his WBC World Super Welterweight title.
But that wasn’t the only fun fight on the show. Here’s a look back at what we learned on Saturday night:
Jermell "Iron Man" Charlo may in fact be made out of iron
In their first encounter, one year ago, Harrison boxed his way to a close decision, staying on the outside and using his jab to keep Charlo off balance. This time, “Super Bad” came forward for much of the fight, pounding Charlo to the head and body with a number of power punches. Charlo took it all without showing signs of being hurt at any point. And then he administered his own shots which eventually closed the show.
Charlo (33-1, 17 KOs), an athletic boxer-puncher has a well-deserved reputation for being a KO artist. However, his chin and resilience are just as important to his success. Particularly on this night as he had to walk through fire in order to close the show.
Tony Harrison is still elite
The Detroit native might have come up short but delivered an elite performance up until the fateful eleventh. Harrison (28-3, 21 KOs) eschewed his typical outside boxing style, coming forward behind a jab and a high guard and landing to the head and body while remaining defensively responsible.
It’s the kind of versatility only boxing’s best possess. And Harrison is indeed in that list. In losing, he gained plenty of support. He will likely challenge again for a world title sooner rather than later—and it won’t be surprising if he joins Charlo as a two-time world champion.
The Truth is back
It was great to see undefeated unified World Welterweight Champion Errol Spence Jr. ringside. Spence (26-0, 21 KOs) made his first public appearance since suffering a serious single-car accident last October. The Dallas product says he has been medically cleared, is back in the gym and plans to return to the ring in May or June. And he doesn’t want a tune-up either, specifically naming Manny Pacquiao and Danny Garcia as his two targets—if the two don’t fight each other. Whatever happens, glad to see Spence in good spirits, reminding viewers that he is still “king of the welterweight division.”
The spectacular super welterweights
Mix and match any of the top guys at 154 pounds and fight fans are guaranteed a great fight. Charlo says he’s looking toward “bigger and better” fights in 2020. That could mean a unification bout versus WBA/IBF World Super Welterweight Champion Julian “J-Rock” Williams. Williams delivered one of the year’s best performances when he won the titles via unanimous decision against Jarrett Hurd in a thriller. "J-Rock" is scheduled to face Jeison Rosario on Saturday, January 18, at The Liacouras Center in his hometown of Philadelphia, live on FOX PBC Fight Night (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).
A Charlo-Williams (or Williams-Charlo) showdown will undoubtedly produce fireworks. So would Charlo-Hurd. Or Hurd-Harrison 2 (Hurd scored a come-from-behind KO when they faced off in 2017). Throw in Erislandy Lara and Brian Carlos Castano and you have a smorgasbord of options that make the weight class arguably the best in the sport.
Efe Ajagba Survives Scare
Undefeated heavyweight prospect Efe Ajagba overcame a knockdown to stop a game Iago Kiladze in the fifth. Ajagba remains undefeated but after dropping Kiladze in the second, he was floored and hurt by a right hand in the third. Ultimately, the former Nigerian Olympian closed the show but there were enough rough moments to suggest further work is needed.
Standing a chiseled 6-foot 6, Ajagba (12-0, 10 KOs) is one of the more imposing heavyweights in the world. He’s blessed with serious length and power in both fists. In coming back from his first career knockdown, he also showed a warrior’s heart. However, he’s often slow on the trigger and leaves himself open when he throws. Granted, Kiladze (26-5-1, 18 KOs), was a significant step up in class. Ajagba would do well to continue to take his time, and hone his craft, before taking another step up.
Tough break for Karlos Balderas
The former 2016 U.S. Olympian suffered a major setback, losing via sixth-round TKO to an impressive René Téllez Girón. Despite the defeat, Balderas (9-1, 8 KOs) flashed skills that suggest he could still be a world champion one day. Perhaps he overlooked Girón. The 20-year-old Mexican came into the bout with only one loss, last June when the rising Michel Rivera defeated him by eight-round unanimous decision.
Girón (14-1, 8 KOs) has earned himself more opportunities. His veteran skills belie his age and he took a number of shots without taking a backward step. Balderas, 23, opted to fight fire with fire and came up short. But all isn’t lost. If he gets back in the gym and applies himself, he can fulfill the potential so many saw in him heading into Saturday night.
Two other notes: Andre Dirrell (27-3, 17 KOs) ended a 21-month layoff with a five-round KO of Juan Ubaldo Cabrera. The 36-year-old Dirrell, one of the most naturally talented fighters in recent times, is now campaigning at light heavyweight. He’ll be one to watch going forward.
Also, welterweight Eimantas Stanionis (10-0, 7 KOs) notched an impressive third-round KO of Julio Cesar Sanchez. The 25-year-old prospect has every tool in the book. Expect him to make his move in 2020.
For a closer look at Harrison vs Charlo 2, check out our fight night page.
- Harrison vs Charlo 2