Tony Harrison stops Sergey Rabchenko with ninth-round TKO
If styles make fights, then the styles of Tony Harrison and Sergey Rabchenko created one lackluster affair on Saturday at Barclays Center.
And then just like that, after fans rained boos on the fighters for the first eight rounds, Harrison (24-1, 20 knockouts) landed a right to the temple of Rabchenko that dropped him in the ninth. The boxer from Belarus rose but was clearly out of it; referee Arthur Mercante Jr. took a long look at him and waved off the fight at 1:18 of the ninth round, giving Harrison a sudden victory. The bout was a junior middleweight IBF eliminator for the right to be the mandatory for the winner of Jermall Charlo’s title defense against Julian Williams on Oct. 1.
This is definitely my biggest win ever. I’m thankful to my team for getting me ready,” Harrison said. “I was luring him to sleep. I kept jabbing and ended up in the corner. My trainer told me that I would have the right hand behind the jab and that’s what happened. I’m a finisher. I had him hurt and I said to the ref, ‘You better not let him go.’ I knew I had him beat. A focused Tony Harrison can beat anybody at 154-pounds. Now it’s on Jermall Charlo and Julian Williams. I’m in the catbird seat.”
For most of the fight, Harrison’s quick-footed counterpunching and Rabchenko’s slow and methodical attack made for a boring match. Not even the encouragement of Ricky Hatton, who is Rabchenko’s trainer, made any difference. Harrison landed the cleaner shots, and he started to open up in the eighth round, spelling trouble for his opponent that would come to fruition in the ninth when he landed the decisive blow on Rabchenko (27-2, 20 KOs).
Harrison entered the ring wearing a Detroit Pistons cap and sported the Pistons colors on his jacket and shorts. Harrison is from Detroit and was a protege of the late, great trainer Emanuel Steward.