WBC junior middleweight champion Tony Harrison (28-2, 21 KOs) and former WBC 154 Ib champion Jermell Charlo (31-1, 15 KOs) were supposed to renew their bitter feud in the main event of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas this Sunday, June 23rd.
However, Harrison suffered an inner and outer ankle sprain with torn ligaments in his right ankle and will be out for 10 weeks before he can resume training. The rematch will be postponed to later in the year, PBC said.
Charlo will instead face late replacement Jorge Cota (28-3, 25 KOs), 31, of Mexico, who is coming off a split decision loss to Jeison Rosario in April.
How We Got Here
Harrison upset the heavily favored Charlo, winning a narrow, some would say, controversial 12-round unanimous decision last year on December 22nd at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
In truth, the Kronk Gym fighter and Emmanuel Steward disciple schooled Charlo dominating most rounds to emerge victorious by identical scores 115-113 and 116-112.
Charlo made the grievous error of loading up on every punch to blast Harrison out while the challenger expertly used his jab to control the action and pick the champion apart. Jermell never made the necessary adjustments throughout the bout and ended up suffering his first career loss.
Charlo was on a collision course to face then undefeated IBF and WBA champion Jarrett Hurd in a unification match, but Hurd would go on to lose in stunning fashion to Julian ‘J-Rock’ Williams in a wildly entertaining scrap this past May.
It’s safe to say that both Charlo and Hurd are in full rebuilding mode now.
Tale of the Tape
Jermell along with twin brother, Jermall, who is the WBC interim middleweight champion and the former IBF 154-pound champion have taken the boxing world by storm.
The 29-year old Charlo lacks the aggression and mean spiritedness of his older sibling but has built an impressive record with impressive footwork, feints and making opponents pay with craftily timed counters.
He was an outstanding amateur fighter regarded as one of the best in his weight class and eventually winning the bronze medal at the 2005 National Junior Olympic Games despite only boxing for 2 years.
His string of professional wins includes quality names such as Harry Joe Yorgey, Demetrius Hopkins, Vanes Martirosyan and John Johnson.
In one of his best fights to date, Charlo defeated former champion Austin Trout by majority decision and knocked the wily veteran down twice in the bout.
Cota is mostly unknown in the U.S. but is a heavy-handed knockout specialist who has fought mostly in Mexico. As mentioned, he is coming off a loss and a tough one at that, to Rosario from the Dominican Republic in a fight he felt he won.
Without a doubt, Charlo represents the toughest test of Cota’s decade-long professional career. However, the fighter nicknamed “El Demonio” (The Demon) has no fear of his formidable opponent and relishes the opportunity.
“It was a very disputed loss (to Rosario) and I went right back to the gym and I’m ready for this because I really believe I can win this fight,” Cota says. “I am coming to win. I would not come otherwise.”
Cota must be respected if for nothing more than his Mexican warrior spirit and his punching power which accounts for an 81% knockout rate.
However, the Mexican has fallen short against the few top-level fighters he has faced. After amassing a perfect 16-0 record to start his career, he was stopped in the seventh round by perennial title contender Antonio Rubio.
He also has a knockout loss to Erickson “The Hammer” Lubin, who pounded Cota into submission in the fourth round of their 2017 match. Ironically, Lubin himself was stopped in the first round in his subsequent fight against none other than Jermell Charlo.
This sequence of events does not bode well at all for Cota but he is finding motivation in countryman Andy Ruiz’s monumental heavyweight upset of Anthony Joshua on June 1.
Charlo should be equally motivated to keep his hope of eventually facing Harrison in a rematch alive and I suspect that he will not overlook his little known but potentially dangerous late replacement opponent.
Short of a shocking knockout, I don’t give Cota much of a chance against a disappointed, superior and hungry opponent like Charlo, who will look to make an example out of him on June 23.
Charlo by seventh round TKO.
Former world champion Guillermo Rigondeaux (18-1, 12 KOs) will battle exciting brawler Julio Ceja (32-3, 28 KOs) in a Super Bantamweight title eliminator in the card’s co-feature. The boxing extraordinaire will look to showcase his masterful technical skills that made him a unified world champion and perennial pound-for-pound fighter. A two-time Olympic gold medalist from Cuba, Rigondeaux holds wins over Nonito Donaire, Rico Ramos and Joseph Agbeko. Ceja won the super bantamweight title in 2015 by stopping Hugo Ruiz. He would then lose the title in their equally exciting rematch in 2016 but has won two of his last three fights since, including a 3rd knockout over Anselmo Moreno. The winner becomes mandatory challenger to WBC titlist Rey Vargas
Televised coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. on FOX and FOX Deportes. The event promoted by Lions Only Promotions, TGB Promotions as well as Mayweather Promotions.
What are your predictions? Let us know in the comment section below.