Harrison last fought in 2019 when he was stopped in the 11th round in a rematch with Jermell Charlo to lose the title he won from Charlo by unanimous decision a year earlier. Perrella last boxed in February, 2020 when he was dropped twice in the 10th and final round and was stopped by Abel Ramos just before the final bell.
The boxing battles among Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran will be chronicled in an upcoming four-part documentary.
Showtime will air “The Kings” beginning June 6. It focuses on the four Hall of Fame fighters who met a combined nine times in the 1980s and provided some of the most memorable matchups of their era.
The series of fights started with Duran’s victory over Leonard in their first bout in 1980 and culminated with Leonard’s draw against Hearns in their second fight in 1989.
It included Hagler’s knockout of Hearns in their 1985 brawl that included an epic first round considered one of the best in boxing history, and Leonard’s disputed victory over Hagler in the longtime middleweight champion’s final fight in 1987.
Three of the bouts were recognized by The Ring magazine as its “Fight of the Year.”
Showtime Sports President Stephen Espinoza said the four fighters “defined an era in boxing,” renewing popularity in the sport following the retirement of Muhammad Ali.
All episodes of the weekly series will be available across Showtime’s on-demand and streaming platforms.
Tony Harrison had been a player in the deep and competitive 154-pound division for years, losing one previous bid for a vacant world title before finally breaking through to capture gold against Jermell Charlo in 2018. He would lose the title back to Charlo via eleventh-round stoppage a year later in a bout that was close right up until the very end.
Last year, Harrison’s life was shaken as he lost his father and trainer, Ali Salaam, to COVID-19. The proud Detroit native worked through the tragedy, dedicated to community service and to helping others devastated by the pandemic. He began 2021 with brother L.J. assuming the role of head trainer and renewed focus on reclaiming a world title.
Perrella started out his career with a 14-0 record and 13 wins inside the distance in the welterweight division. With an entertaining style and the eye-catching Goodfellas-inspired suits he wore to the ring, the Fort Myers, Florida native seemed destined for stardom.
Since that initial run, however, things have been rough.
3-3 with 1 knockout in his last six bouts, Perrella ran into tough times against veterans Yordenis Ugas and Luis Collazo and then, in his last fight, suffered a devastating last-seconds TKO against Abel Ramos in a bout he was clearly winning.
Despite impressive victories over Breidis Prescott and Domonique Dolton, a change was needed. The 32-year-old moved up to super welterweight and has added new trainer, the legendary Roy Jones Jr., to his team.
Tony Harrison is the proven commodity in this matchup and, therefore, the favorite to emerge victorious. Perrella has several things working against him, including the fact that he’s moving up in weight and will not have the height and reach advantage he’s enjoyed throughout his welterweight run (He’ll actually have a four-and-a-half inch reach disadvantage).
But Perrella is hardly a no-hoper in this contest. His strengths line up well against Harrison’s deficiencies. Energy and activity will be the keys in this encounter and, given that Harrison is not naturally a grinding pressure fighter or high-energy battler, Perrella could win rounds by getting off first and using movement to avoid counters.
Harrison will do what he does best. He’ll fight tall, score from the outside, and work to maintain optimum space and pace for his style. Perrella will have to work hard for his opportunities, but they should be there.
In Harrison-Perrella, expect an intriguing styles matchup where the underdog’s fire and focus will come into question against the former champ’s cool precision.
“I wouldn’t have picked Perrella for my fight to come back. I would have picked someone with more to lose, but to his credit, he’s coming up to an unfamiliar weight class to take me on. He’s going to be a great challenge, and I appreciate him stepping up to the task. It shows the confidence he has in himself and in his training.
“My brother LJ has always been in my corner; it’s just taken my father’s passing for him to become the leader in my corner. He was a great basketball player, and I think that’s played a big part in how he views a fight. He was a point guard, so he had to see the whole floor. He can see so much of what I need to do in order to be successful on fight night.
“My father taught me how to fight, so what I needed in a new trainer is someone who gives me an energetic boost. My brother is someone who knows how to reach me when the time comes where I need to be reached. I couldn’t find that from someone who was just getting to know me. I had to find someone who already knew me.
“When it comes to fighting, I know how to keep my emotions intact because I’ve been doing it my whole life. It’s something I just go in there and do. I got my ass kicked in my first couple sparring sessions of this camp, or I felt like it at least because I was coming off of 16 months off. My body had to get re-accustomed to what I had been going through my whole life previously. I used that struggle as motivation. It showed me what I had to do in order to be victorious in this fight. Now I’m the one busting other people up. I came a long way from the beginning of camp.
“Everyone knows I would love a third fight against Jermell Charlo. He’s a guy who I know I can beat. But I’m not going to take the spotlight away from Perrella. That’s the guy who’s in front of me. If I don’t take care of this first step, I don’t get the Charlo fight. Perrella is coming to win, and he’s just as motivated as me.