Top cruiserweight contender Andrew “The Beast” Tabiti unleashes another devastating KO and Ecuador’s Erick Bone wins a fun-filled, fan-friendly welterweight affair on a PBC on Bounce card in Las Vegas.
Tony Harrison had something in his sights Friday night that no other fighter can say they conquered. He had former 154-pound champion Ishe Smith— who had never been stopped in his 18-year career—badly hurt.
But instead of pushing on the gas, Harrison coasted to a decision win in their Bounce TV-televised main event from Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall in Las Vegas.
Harrison escaped horrible judging—but just barely. The Detroit native won 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.
Harrison did what you are taught never to do—let a guy off the hook when you have them hurt when you’re fighting them in their hometown.
“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.
“ Ishe is a vet and he showed it each and every round. Each round that I thought I could stop him, he came back. I just had to put the pressure on him a little more. ” 154-pound contender Tony Harrison
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.
This isn’t to say that Smith didn’t have his moments. He boxed very well at times, tagging Harrison with a big left in the fifth round that Harrison managed to take well. Ultimately, body punching sapped Smith’s punching power as Harrison dug left hooks to his body continuously.
Harrison figures to be a fun option for any of the top names at 154 pounds. Even though he was controlling the fight Friday night, there was the added drama of whether or not he was going to run out of gas before reaching the finish line. He passed that test and could easily bring his future opponents into deep waters.
The 39-year-old Smith has been a .500 fighter since losing the title belt he won from Cornelius Bundrage in February 2013. But that he always comes to fights in shape and managed to remain on his feet after multiple onslaughts from Harrison will surely get him another televised fight against someone trying to prove they’re a contender.
“It’s difficult for me to rate my performance,” said Smith. “I think we put on a great show, but overall his reach made it hard for me to land my punches. I don’t think his speed or his age affected my plan, it all comes down to me. I fought a great fight and as you can see, judges ruled it a split decision.”
Tabiti scores another stoppage
Andrew Tabiti solidified himself as one of the only American hopes in the cruiserweight division with a sixth-round knockout of Lateef Kayode. Tabiti (16-0, 13 KOs) blasted Kayode with a big right hand and Kayode stayed on his knees, failing to beat the count. Kayode (21-3, 16 KOs) has now lost his last three fights.
Tabiti is probably the best American cruiserweight since Steve Cunningham, who Tabiti beat last August. The division is dominated by Europeans, and Tabiti moved closer to getting a crack at one of them in a title shot.
“I’m coming for a title shot. After a nine-month layoff, I’m pleased with my performance,” Tabiti said. “I think I came out and did what I told everyone I would; I showed my skillset, kept a steady pace, and got the KO.”
Bone scores split decision win in fun welterweight affair
Ecuador’s Erick Bone won a ten-round split decision over local favorite Cameron Krael in an exciting back-and-forth contest decided by scores of 96-94, 95-94 in Bone’s favor and 95-94 for Krael.
Bone (20-5, 8 KOs) boxed well though Krael had his moments in a fun welterweight fight.
“In the ring it was much more difficult than what I had imagined and Krael made me box more. This fight taught me a lot,” said Bone, who hadn’t fought in the U.S. in nearly a year. “This was a test that I learned a lot from, I'm happy judges saw this fight in my favor.”
For a complete look at Smith vs Harrison, check out our fight page.