Tony Harrison and Jermell Charlo both can’t stop criticizing each other heading into their rematch Saturday at Toyota Arena in Ontario, Calif.
Harrison (28-2, 21 KOs) scored a razor-thin unanimous decision win 364 days ago to shock then-undefeated Charlo (32-1, 16 KOs) for his WBC super-welterweight belt.
For the last year, in between a rematch postponement because Harrison suffered an ankle injury, both boxers have been barking at each other with enough trash talk to overflow a landfill.
The unscripted verbal montage has been full of low blows and the pair of 29-year-olds will finally look to prove there is fire beyond the smoke in their nationally televised fight on Fox.
“I could beat him anywhere, it doesn’t matter,” Harrison said. “We could fight in this room right now. Nothing is going to change. There’s no respect. I’m going to show him each and every time. I’m not the one to play with.”
Harrison is a gritty fighter from Detroit’s tough 7 Mile area and protege of the late Emanuel Steward. The Houston-based Charlo, who has a twin brother in champion Jermall, brought the best out of Harrison last year, and the two have the ingredients for a lifelong rivalry should another entertaining fight break out.
“The judges that gave him the first fight woke me up,” Charlo said. “All of the talking doesn’t matter. He’s going to have to live up to his word and I’m going to live up to mine.”
In MMA action part-way across the Pacific Ocean, childhood friends and training partners A.J. McKee, 24, from Long Beach, and Joey Davis Jr., 25, from Compton, will step into the cage in separate bouts in Honolulu to further accomplish dreams they had since training together as toddlers.
On Friday, welterweight Davis (6-0) will take on Chris Cisneros (19-10) at Bellator’s USO Salute the Troops event. Davis has multiple national championships and a 133-0 record in collegiate wrestling.
Davis has also been trained by former MMA contender Antonio McKee, A.J.’s father, at the BodyShop Fitness in Lakewood. The elder McKee is lifelong friends with his father, Joey Davis Sr.
“A.J. and I are like family,” said Davis Jr. “Anytime we get to come out here and represent … it’s a blessing. This is something I have been preparing for my entire life. I am the future of the sport. I will be a champion. I’m here to take over.”
McKee (15-0), meanwhile, will look to move forward in the $1 million featherweight world grand prix with a quarterfinal matchup against Derek Campos (20-9) at Bellator 236 on Saturday.
“I’ve come to let people know I’m here to do business … and keep shocking the world,” McKee said. “I’m blessed to have the skillset that I have. He’s probably my most dangerous opponent because he’s willing to leave it all in there.”
The elder McKee said surviving the inner city is a real testament to how talented and driven both of the fighters are.
“I’ve always looked at Joey as if he was another son, and to get to be here alongside both of them on their journey has been amazing,” he said. “They’ve already accomplished so much, and there is really no telling how high the ceiling to their legacy will be.”
Said Davis Sr.: “They were killers then, and they are killers now. It’s a real blessing to watch them both succeed at such a high level together, whether it’s in the hood or in Hawaii where it’s all good.”
Both Bellator events will stream live on DAZN, with Friday’s show also available on the Paramount Network.