Former WBC super-welterweight champion Tony Harrison and Florida southpaw Bryant Perrella batted to a split draw at the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall in Los Angeles on Saturday night.
Scores were 116-112 (Harrison), 117-111 (Perrella) and 114-114 (even) in a largely tactical 12-rounder.
Harrison’s best work came behind a smooth jab whereas Perrella posed problems with a sharp right hook and finished the fight in the ascendancy under the guidance of new trainer Roy Jones after moving up from 147lbs. Harrison’s more accurate shots were countered by Perrella’s higher workrate.
“I felt strong and my stamina was good all fight,” said Perrella (17-3-1, 14 KOs), who was marked up under the left eye from the second round. “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.”
Harrison (28-3-1, 21 KOs) was back in a boxing ring for the first time since his father and trainer Ali Salaam passed away a year ago. With his brother LJ in his corner, Harrison illustrated his noted boxing skills but was faced with a much-improved Perrella.
“It was good to be back in there and having fun,” said Harrison (28-3-1, 21 KOs). “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. Overall, after 16 months I thought I did okay. 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.
“The judges do their job, I’m not disappointed in their decision. 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.”
Perrella added: “I thought I did enough to win. 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.”
Meanwhile, cruiserweight puncher Efetobor Apochi (11-0, 11 KOs) registered a third-round stoppage of previously unbeaten Deon Nicholson (14-1, 13 KOs) in their WBA cruiserweight title eliminator.
Trained by Ronnie Shields, ‘Nigerian Pit Bull’ Apochi hurt Alabama’s Nicholson with an uppercut in the second before flooring him with a combination later in the session. Nicholson hadn’t recovered in the following round and was decked again, ending the fight.
“After the first round I said to Ronnie Shields that he’s going to quit,” said Apochi. “Ronnie said, ‘Make him quit’. I saw it in his eyes. When I punched him, I saw his eyes going in and out. He’s a tough guy, but toughness will get you hurt.
“Ronnie says that if I listen to him, I’ll become champion. When a master of the sport like Ronnie Shields is telling you that you have something special, you have to accept it and take it and use it. I’m here for the title. Bring it on. I want the strap.”
In the co-main event, rising super-lightweight Omar Juárez (11-0, 5 KOs) dominated an entertaining encounter to win a unanimous 10-round decision over Argentina’s Elias Araujo (21-3, 8 KOs). Scores were99-91 (twice) and98-92.
“I feel like I could have gone 10 more rounds,” said Juarez. “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.”
Earlier, Philadelphia welterweight James Martin (7-2, 0 KOs) scored a shock eight-round majority decision victory over previously unbeaten prospect Vito Mielnicki Jr. (8-1, 5 KOs). Scores were 79-73, 77-75 and 76-76.
“I worked hard for this fight,” said Martin. “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.”
Main image: Sean Michael Nam/TGB Promotions.