2018 Upset Of The Year

Rob Brant W12 Ryota Murata
Maurice Hooker W12 Terry Flanagan
Tony Harrison W12 Jermell Charlo
Josh Warrington W12 Lee Selby
Eleider Alvarez KO7 Sergey Kovalev

Winner: Tony Harrison W12 Jermell Charlo

This past December 22 was supposed to be something of a show-and-tell type event for the seemingly superstar bound Charlo twins, designed to vault them from rising forces to new stars in boxing. Both middleweight Jermall and super welterweight Jermell sought to showcase their explosive punching power en route to lucrative match-ups in 2019, prospective “superfights” against well-established attractions such as Canelo Alvarez or Jarrett Hurd.

Unfortunately for some, the event did not unfold as intended. Neither Charlo brother was particularly impressive, and shockingly, WBC junior-middleweight titlist Jermell Charlo suffered his first pro defeat to junior-middleweight afterthought, Tony Harrison.

No one expected Harrison to win for two very solid reasons. One, he had been stopped by Jarret Hurd in his most notable fight prior, and second, with a lucrative showdown against Hurd in the waiting, the assumption was that surely the braintrust behind Charlo would not risk matching him with someone who was a legit threat to ruin all those well-laid plans. But Harrison fought a cagey fight for 12 rounds, keeping his distance and not letting Jermell get set to throw his money punches. And while Charlo did hurt Harrison on a few occasions, most notably in the fifth and final rounds, he showed suspect finishing ability as he smothered his attack instead of patiently setting up the knockout.

Harrison shocked both Jermell and the boxing world.

While some thought Charlo outworked Harrison and did just enough to hold onto his title, it was Tony Harrison who was awarded the shock unanimous decision when Jimmy Lennon Jr. read off the scorecards. While the decision was initially greeted with disgust by fans and the media alike, surprisingly it was outspoken scoring critic Teddy Atlas who came to Harrison’s defense, declaring that he also saw the Detroit contender box his way to a clear-cut decision win.

Harrison’s victory not only threw the veritable wrench into what would have been a huge unification battle against Hurd, but it also served as a reminder that it takes more than natural ability to stay at the top in the boxing game. Jermell Charlo certainly has the goods to be one of the hottest young fighters in the sport, but there’s only so far a one trick pony can go, and by centering his tactics around his punching power, Charlo showed that he’s bound to disappoint.

Harrison celebrates his unexpected victory.

But 2018’s Upset of the Year was not just about Jermell Charlo taking his talent for granted and letting down both his fans and his backers. It was also about Tony Harrison rising to the occasion and boxing with focus and discipline. It was an impressive performance and a shocking victory and our choice for Upset of the Year.

 — Alden Chodash 

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