Tony Harrison: ‘I want to be the guy that puts Detroit back on top’
There is no need to wish junior middleweight Tony Harrison luck anytime he is preparing for an upcoming fight. He has a philosophy regarding this since he began lacing up gloves at a young age.
“Luck is for someone who doesn’t work hard.”
Harrison has made good on that philosophy thus far. He hopes it could one day carry him toward a world title fight and make him an ambassador of sorts to an embattled city.
Harrison will face Pablo Munguia on Friday night in a 10-round bout at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. The bout will headline a DiBella Entertainment card and will be televised live on ESPN2, beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
The 24-year-old Harrison (20-0, 17 knockouts) has been turning heads over the last couple of years. In his last bout on March 6, Harrison scored an impressive second round technical knockout over fringe contender Antwone Smith. Harrison has now stopped his last nine opponents in a row.
He faces Munguia (20-6, 11 KOs), a hard-nosed southpaw from Mexico City, who is familiar to fight fans who watch the ‘Boxeo Telemundo’ telecasts. In his last bout on Feb. 20, he lost an eight-round split decision to Yudel Jhonson.
While Harrison is favored to win, he is not taking Munguia lightly.
“I was already back in the gym after the [Smith] fight,” Harrison told RingTV in a recent phone interview. “Munguia is determined to win. He’s not coming to [lie] down. Like all Mexican fighters, he’s going to be in good shape and coming to win. I see in him a fighter who is determined to beat an undefeated fighter.”
Harrison resides in Detroit, a city that has seen an economic and social transformation over the last decade or so. The inner city has become a crime and drug-ridden area rife with abandoned buildings.
At the same time, Detroit has been the home for a number of world champions, including Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson and, most recently, Thomas “Hitman” Hearns.
Harrison believes he can be the modern-day savior to put the city back on the boxing map, especially with so much negative press the city has received in recent years.
“The ‘Motor City’ used to be the Mecca of boxing,” said Harrison, who is advised by Al Haymon. “In my opinion, Detroit is the Mecca. There is so much boxing history in this city, from Ray Robinson to Thomas Hearns. I know boxing could return to the city where you have 12, 15, or 20,000 fans in attendance. I would love to see that in the city and to be that good boxer that puts the city of Detroit back on the boxing map.”
Aside from the fighters, no other person personified boxing in the city of Detroit than Emanuel Steward. Not only did he own the famed Kronk Gym in Detroit, he also managed a number of fighters.
Steward trained and managed Harrison until the trainer’s death in Oct. of 2012. Despite not having him present during a training camp or in his corner on fight night, Steward’s influence on Harrison is still strong today.
“I don’t feel he’s ever left me. He was a great trainer but an even greater friend. I know that I could call him anytime or to a barbeque. He would always be the one to keep our team and family afloat. Even though he’s not with us, I believe his influence and his name works wonders in the sport. I truly believe he still walks with to this day.”
Harrison has already accomplished a great deal in the sport thus far. He competes in a very deep junior middleweight class, in which there are a number of young prospects or unbeaten fighters who are carving out their own paths in the sport.
As active as he is in the ring and with the right mindset, Harrison could be fighting for a world title sooner than later. Then again, Harrison never needs luck to get him there.
“[I believe] 2015 is my year. I want to keep winning fights. I know that Haymon and Detroit see something in me. I just want to do my job and do it the best I can.
“I want to be the guy that puts Detroit back on top.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Salazar also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing