Harrison not worried about ring ready for Perrella

Tony Harrison not worried about ring rust

Former junior middleweight titlist Tony Harrison is set to return Saturday night on FOX, facing Bryant Perrella in a fight both must win if they want to stay players in a crowded and competitive division.

The 30-year-old Harrison (28-3, 21 KO) hasn’t fought since his Dec. 2019 loss to Jermell Charlo, but the 32-year-old Perrella (17-3, 14 KO) has also been out of action since a Feb. 2020 loss to Abel Ramos, so Harrison isn’t worried about rust being a big factor.

“I’m not really concerned about ring rust, but it may take a couple rounds to get acclimated and get into it,” said Harrison. “It’s a fight, this isn’t cheerleading. You just have to be able to adapt to the environment in the ring. He’s coming off a long layoff too, though. I think I actually have the edge heading into this fight.”

Perrella is now training under Roy Jones Jr, and is confident he’s learned enough and made enough tweaks to pull what would be a solid upset this weekend. Harrison is favored for a reason, but not at all taking Perrella lightly.

“I don’t really know that much about Perrella, just that he’s a southpaw,” said Harrison. “I know that he’s gotten some knockouts. But it’s mostly about how I’m going to move and step on fight night when I’m going up against a lefty. Like anyone on this level, I expect Perrella to come in there and do his best to compete with me. He’s no tune-up fight. I’m treating this fight like I’m 0–0 and this fight is for everything.

“I’m always looking to make a statement, but I’m not rushing into it and making mistakes that’ll cost me,” he added. “I definitely want to win by knockout, but you’re never going to make everybody happy. I’m just looking to go in there and do what I know how to do. Winning is the biggest thing to me. I just need to walk away with the win.”

A turnaround that few saw coming was really happening. The Braves were rising up ignited by their 6-foot-5 senior quarterback, DJ Uiagalelei, and a talented group of receivers who had enough of losing to Mater Dei in championship games.

Uiagalelei passed for 444 yards and five touchdowns to rally the Braves (12-1) to a 39-34 victory over Mater Dei. The Braves had lost to the Monarchs in the last two championship games and were beaten 38-24 by Mater Dei in a Trinity League game on Oct. 25.

Down 28-5 in the second quarter and 28-12 at halftime, the Braves did something no team has done against the Monarchs — they forced standout quarterback Bryce Young (405 yards passing, five touchdowns, three interceptions) to make mistakes and rode the wave of strong play on the offensive and defensive lines.

An eight-yard touchdown catch by Kris Hutson with 30 seconds left before halftime signaled the start of St. John Bosco’s comeback. Then Hutson caught a 26-yard touchdown pass on the Braves’ opening possession of the third quarter.

The deficit was reduced to 28-26 with 57 seconds left in the third quarter when tight end Adam Awaida caught a 25-yard touchdown pass. Then defensive lineman Nathan Burrell jumped up and intercepted Young on the Mater Dei 17. Logan Loya caught an 11-yard touchdown pass for a 32-28 Bosco lead, its first of the game. Then Loya caught a 26-yard touchdown pass.

The momentum was total St. John Bosco, and Mater Dei was feeling it. Receivers were dropping passes, adding to the Braves’ confidence as their supporters loudly roared with approval. St. John Bosco was able to sack Young a season-high four times.

The last sack was the decisive one. Mater Dei (12-1) had the ball on the St. John Bosco 13. The Monarchs had stuffed Uiagalelei on fourth and one from the St. John Bosco 29. There was 1:30 left when Ma’a Gaoteote rushed in from the left side, tackled Young and knocked the ball loose. St. John Bosco recovered.

“On the last drive, we got into the wrong protection,” Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson said. “It was that kind of a night.”

Young badly overthrew a pass for an interception, fumbled on a scramble and was called for an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone, resulting in a safety. He kept fighting. His 23-yard touchdown pass to Kyron Ware-Hudson with 5:38 left pulled Mater Dei to within 39-34. The crowd of 9,993 stood on both sides and tried to outshout the other. The game ended with Hutson intercepting the ball in the end zone on the final play.

“At halftime, we had to make adjustments and keep fighting,” said Loya, who caught 10 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns. “We executed. We have the best receiving corp in the country. Our line did an outstanding job. I believed we could come here and win.”

St. John Bosco lost fumbles inside the 20 and inside the 10, helping to produce its slow start. The Braves also gave up touchdowns on a blown secondary coverage and when a defender fell down.

On the third play of the game, Young passed 62 yards to Quincy Craig for a touchdown. It was 14-0 less than three minutes in after a six-yard touchdown pass to Ware-Hudson. Linebacker Raesjon Davis was disrupting the Braves with his pass rush. By halftime, Mater Dei led 28-12.