A see-saw affair ends in a draw as both Harrison and Perrella gave as good as they got Saturday night on FOX.
Former WBA world super welterweight champion Tony "Superbad" Harrison and hard-hitting southpaw Bryant "Goodfella" Perrella battled to a 12-round, split-decision draw in their 154-pound main event Saturday night on FOX PBC Fight Night from the Shrine Expo Hall, in Los Angeles, California.
Harrison (28-3-1, 21 KOs) was coming off a 16-month layoff and the loss of his father and trainer, Ali Salaam, who died last April at the age of 59 due to the coronavirus. Perrella (17-3-1, 14 KOs) was dealing with a heartbreaking loss by one second to Abel Ramos in February 2020.
It was not the outcome either wanted or needed.
Judge Max DeLuca had it 116-112 for Harrison, while judge Lou Moret had it 117-111 for Perrella. Zachary Young saw it as a 114-114 draw.
“I thought I did enough to win,” said Perrella, who was coming up from welterweight. “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.
“I felt strong and my stamina was good all fight. 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.”
By punchstat counts, Perrella landed 150/692 (22%) total punches to Harrison’s 138/453 (30%). The real difference came in Perrella’s 118/396 (30%) power punch connects, to Harrison’s 78/171 (46%).
Harrison was more philosophical about the result.
“The judges do their job, I'm not disappointed in their decision,” he said. “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.
“It was good to be back in there and having fun. 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.”
Through the opening rounds, Perrella snuck in a few shots, as Harrison attempted to find his range. In the third, Perrella, with the legendary Roy Jones Jr. in his corner, bounced off a combination straight up the middle on Harrison. Up to that point, it was Perrella’s best round.
Harrison began closing the gap in the fourth, coming forward at the end of the round to pepper Perrella with jabs. “Superbad” continued to press the action the fifth, entering a punching zone, landing a blunt right on Perrella’s chin.
In the first minute of the sixth, Perrella snapped Harrison’s head back with a straight left he didn’t see, followed by a right hook. Harrison was only able to counter later in the round.
Harrison upped his attack in the second half of the fight. Yet it was still nip and tuck all the way. Before the last round, Jones told Perrella he had to knock Harrison out to win. Harrison, meanwhile, seemed content he had the fight won.
Both found out otherwise.
“Overall, after 16 months I thought I did okay,” Harrison said. “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.”
Omar Juarez easily breaks down Elias Araujo
Omar Juarez never seemed in danger, despite the constant charges of 33-year-old veteran Elias Araujo. Juarez (11-0, 5 KOs) would step back, pick apart Araujo, then step back and cleave the head-down, oncoming Araujo (21-3, 8 KOs) again.
Midway through the scheduled 10-round junior welterweight bout, it was pretty evident the routine wasn’t going to change. It all led to a rather easy unanimous decision for the unblemished Juarez.
Judges Rudy Barragan and Alejandro Rochin saw it the same, 99-91, and Zachary Young scored it a round closer, 98-92, awarding it all to Juarez.
In the latter stages of the fight, like in the ninth, when Juarez dropped a left to the body, followed by a chopping left to Araujo’s face.
“My coaches preach to me to stay calm in the ring and we practice that all the time,” Juarez said. “I know how to keep my composure and that's the key to my success. I felt like I was more comfortable tonight. I'm just going to keep getting better fight after fight.
“I feel like I could have gone 10 more rounds. 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.”
James Martin upsets Vito Mielnicki, Jr.
For the first time in his young pro career, 18-year-old Vito Mielnicki, Jr. got his nose bloodied. James Martin, a 23-year-old from Philadelphia, Pa., was coming forward and pressing the teenage welterweight prospect. Finally, in the fourth of the scheduled eight-rounder, Mielnicki began engaging Martin more.
The surge arrived a little too late.
Martin (7-2, 0 KO) pulled off a stunner, upsetting Mielnicki (8-1, 5 KOs) with an eight-round majority decision. Judge Max DeLuca scored it a 76-76 draw, overruled by judges Lou Moret (77-75) and Alejandro Rochin (79-73).
Punch stats bore that out. Martin almost doubled Mielnicki’s output, landing 148/612 (24%) total punches to Mielnicki’s 88/358 (25%). Martin connected on 98/293 (33%) power punches to Mielnicki’s 65/215 (30%).
Halfway through the fight, Mielnicki appeared in danger of losing his first fight. In the fifth, Mielnicki tagged Martin with an overhand right, which Martin countered with a left. Martin kept Mielnicki back with a triple jab, though Mielnicki countered that with body work against the ropes.
In the sixth, Mielnicki began dropping left hooks to the body. Martin surged back in the seventh, after Mielnicki’s trainer, Muhammad Abdul Salaam, told his young fighter he was not listening in between rounds. Martin did great work, doubling left hooks, followed by right uppercuts. Mielnicki did not have an answer. With his nose bleeding again, Mielnicki looked discouraged after absorbing a high volume of head shots.
“I worked hard for this fight,” Martin said. “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.”
All Mielnicki would say afterward was, “I’ll be back.”
Efetobor Apochi keeps his knockout streak alive
The 33-year-old from Orogun, Nigeria, had Nicholson in trouble as early as the second. An Apochi right uppercut led to the first knockdown. Sensing Nicholson was in trouble, Apochi went into attack mode entering the third. An Apochi overhand right knocked Nicholson down again. Referee Jerry Cantu made the right call in waving it over.
“After the first round, I said to Ronnie (Shields, his trainer), I said, ‘He’s going to quit,’ and Ronnie said, ‘Make him quit,’” Apochi said. “I saw it in his eyes. When I punched this dude with some big right hands, I saw his eyes going in and out. He didn’t want to be there. He’s a tough guy, but toughness will get you hurt. The confidence is just there. I was a born fighter. The confidence has been there all my life. I just get better with every fight.
“I want the strap. Bring it on.”
Super bantamweight Chavez Barrientes (5-0, 4 KOs) remained undefeated after stopping Luis Valdes (7-8-1, 2 KOs) in one round of a scheduled six-rounder. This came after Valdez claimed he had his equilibrium staggered when he got hit in the left ear. It was second time Valdez was stopped.
For a closer look at Harrison vs Perrella, check out our fight night page.