Both Tony Harrison and Jarrett Hurd were already on the verge of fulfilling their goal of fighting for a world championship leading up to their 154-pound showdown next week. Thanks to Jermall Charlo, that opportunity is now staring them in the face.
What was originally scheduled to be a title elimination bout between Harrison and Hurd is now a battle for a vacant 154-pound world championship on February 25 at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama (FOX, 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).
The title became vacant Thursday when Jermall Charlo (25-0, 19 KOs) announced his decision to move up to 160 pounds to seek a world title in a second weight division. The 26-year-old Houston resident became a 154-pound titleholder in September 2015 with a third-round TKO of Cornelius Bundrage and subsequently defended his crown three times, including a fifth-round knockout of unbeaten contender Julian Williams on December 10.
“I've been thinking about moving to 160 pounds for a while now,” Charlo said. “It was a struggle for me to make the weight for the last title fight. Once I captured the title I defended it immediately, because I wasn't sure how long I could hold the weight. I held it an extra year to fight Austin Trout and Julian Williams.
“I feel there are bigger and better things for me at 160 where I can still hold my weight and be stronger. The idea of being a two-time world champion is a big goal for me.”
The Tony Harrison vs Jarrett Hurd bout is the co-main event to Deontay Wilder’s heavyweight title defense against Gerald Washington. Their fight originally was intended to determine who would be the next challenger for Charlo, but the winner will now become the newest 154-pound champion.
“ I feel there are bigger and better things for me at 160 where I can still hold my weight and be stronger. The idea of being a two-time world champion is a big goal for me. ” Jermall Charlo, on vacating his 154-pound world title
Harrison (24-1, 20 KOs) has won three straight fights since suffering his lone defeat against Willie Nelson in July 2015. In his last bout, the 26-year-old Detroit native earned a ninth-round TKO of Sergey Rabchenko in Brooklyn, New York, in July.
Since his professional debut in July 2011, the 6-foot-1 Harrison has been making quick work of most of his opponents in his quest to become a champion.
“I've been waiting on this for a long time. This the biggest shot of my life. It's like my son being born all over again,” Harrison said when informed of Charlo's decision to vacate. “As a boxer this is what you dream of—the day you fight for a world title. Santa came early.
“We're both 26 years old. It's a dream come true for both of us. It doesn't change the approach. It just makes it much sweeter and puts that much more respect on the winner of this fight.”
Hurd (19-0, 13 KOs) has had a quicker ascent toward the top than his opponent since debuting in September 2012. The 6-foot-1 native of Accokeek, Maryland, is coming off a sixth-round TKO of former 147-pound title challenger Jo Jo Dan in November and has stopped seven of his last eight opponents, including a current string of five straight.
“This is the moment every boxer dreams of, becoming the world champion,” Hurd said. “I finally get that opportunity on the big stage—on the Deontay Wilder heavyweight championship card and on FOX in prime time on national TV. I'm blessed. I want to thank everyone for getting me to this point.
“Tony Harrison is a great fighter. It's not going to be an easy fight. Tony Harrison is top-level competition, and I'm a top-level competitor. Two great fighters going after something they want. But I have to say my pants are falling and I need my belt.”
For a complete look at Harrison vs Hurd, visit our fight page.