Tony Harrison and Bryant Perrella fight to a split-decision draw
Tony “Superbad” Harrison was looking for something to build on after a 16-month layoff and the loss of his father, Ali Salaam, last year due to the coronavirus. Southpaw Bryant “Goodfella” Perrella was looking to recover from an anguishing loss by one second to Abel Ramos last February.
Neither junior middleweight got what they wanted on Saturday night.
Harrison and Perrella fought to a 12-round split-decision draw on the FOX PBC Fight Night main event from the Shrine Expo Hall, in Los Angeles, California.
Judge Max DeLuca had it 116-112 for Harrison (28-3-1, 21 knockouts), while judge Lou Moret had it 117-111 for Perrella (17-3-1, 14 KOs). Zachary Young saw it as a 114-114 draw.
“I thought I did enough to win,” said Perrella, who was coming up from welterweight. “In the first half of the fight I had him rocked and had him hurt several times. He’s real crafty and he’s a veteran. I’m just getting my feet wet at 154, but it was good to get this first fight with Roy out of the way. It’s going to get even better next time out.
“I felt strong and my stamina was good all fight. I had to be smart in there with a guy like Tony Harrison. He has a real good jab and a good reach and he can pop as well. I knew I couldn’t do anything stupid. He’s got so much experience and it was my first fight at 154 pounds. It was great to mix it up with one of the big dogs in the division.”
Perrella, who had Roy Jones Jr. in his corner, landed 150/692 (22%) total punches to Harrison’s 138/453 (30%). The real difference came in Perrella’s 118/396 (30%) power punch connects, to Harrison’s 78/171 (46%).
There was never any sense from Harrison that he was in danger of losing.
“The judges do their job, I’m not disappointed in their decision,” he said. “I just have to ask myself what I needed to do more of and what I could have done better at.
“I’ll know more about how I did after I look at it again. I probably could have let my hands go a little more. I gave him a couple of momentum rounds where he felt like he was doing better than he really was.
“It was good to be back in there and having fun. He was craftier than I thought he’d be. A lot of shots he threw didn’t have much on them, and I probably got caught pulling back a couple times.”
There were rounds like the sixth, when Perrella snapped Harrison’s head with straight lefts. Harrison kept Perrella away with a steady jab, but in the 10th, Perrella once again landed a straight left to Harrison’s face.
Jones told Perrella he had to knock Harrison out to win. Harrison kept the same approach, feeling he was in charge.
“Overall, after 16 months I thought I did okay,” Harrison said. “I was in there with a clear head and I was staying on my feet between rounds, so I know my body is still in great shape.”
In the co-feature, Omar Juarez (11-0, 5 KOs) dominated Elias Araujo (21-3, 8 KOs) in a 10-round junior welterweight bout. It was a case if you saw one round, you saw them all. Araujo tried bull rushing Juarez, and the 21-year-old patiently staved off the charges.
Judges Rudy Barragan and Alejandro Rochin had it both 99-91 for Juarez, while Zachary Young also had it for Juarez, 98-92.
“My coaches preach to me to stay calm in the ring and we practice that all the time,” Juarez said. “I know how to keep my composure and that’s the key to my success. I felt like I was more comfortable tonight. I’m just going to keep getting better fight after fight.
“I feel like I could have gone 10 more rounds. I’m going to take a week off then get right back to the gym. I’m going to train with my good friend Mario Barrios for the next month and a half.”
In a shocker, James Martin (7-2, 0 KO) upset highly touted welterweight prospect Vito Mielnicki, Jr. (8-1, 5 KOs) with an eight-round majority decision. The 23-year-old Martin took the fight to the 18-year-old Mielnicki, pressing him and breaking him down with double left hooks, followed by right uppercuts.
Martin even bloodied Mielnicki’s nose for the first time in his career.
Judge Max DeLuca scored it a 76-76 draw, which was overruled by judges Lou Moret (77-75) and Alejandro Rochin (79-73).
Martin almost doubled Mielnicki’s total punch output, landing 148/612 (24%) to Mielnicki’s 88/358 (25%). Martin connected on 98/293 (33%) power punches to Mielnicki’s 65/215 (30%).
Martin closed strong. In the seventh, he went back to doubling his left hooks, followed by right uppercuts that backed up Mielnicki.
“I worked hard for this fight,” Martin said. “I was working all camp on pressuring, going forward and throwing a lot of punches. At first, I thought he would be taller than me, but I felt like we were the same height in there.
“So, I just stayed on my boxing. I watched tape on him so I wasn’t surprised by anything he brought to the ring. I made sure I kept popping the jab, working hard and adding points rounds by round.”
On the undercard, Efetobor Apochi remained undefeated by dropping Deon Nicholson (14-1, 13 KOs) for the first time and then stopping him for the first time, at 1:12 of the third round in the WBA cruiserweight title eliminator.
Apochi (11-0, 11 KOs) downed Nicholson in the second round, after initially stunning him with a right uppercut. Apochi then knocked Nicholson later in the second with a right uppercut. Coming back on unsteady legs in the third, Nicholson could not do anything to keep Apochi off of him. An overhand right knocked Nicholson down in the third, causing referee Jerry Cantu to end it.
“After the first round, I said to Ronnie (Shields, his trainer), I said, ‘He’s going to quit,’ and Ronnie said, ‘Make him quit,’” Apochi said. “I saw it in his eyes. When I punched this dude with some big right hands, I saw his eyes going in and out. He didn’t want to be there.”
Junior featherweight Chavez Barrientes (5-0, 4 KOs) stopped Luis Valdes (7-8-1, 2 KOs) in the first when Valdez did answer the bell for the second in scheduled six-rounder. Junior welterweight Darwin Price (17-1, 10 KOs) stopped Saul Corral (23-17, 13 KOs) at :20 of the fifth of a scheduled eight-rounder.
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.