WBC junior middleweight champion Tony Harrison injured his ankle in training last week and has withdrawn from his title defense against former world champion Jermell Charlo that was scheduled to headline FOX PBC Fight Night on FOX and FOX Deportes Sunday, June 23 at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
Harrison has an inner and outer ankle sprain with torn ligaments in his right ankle and he will be out for 10 weeks before he can resume training. Harrison and Charlo plan to have their rematch later this year.
Stepping in to replace Harrison for a 12-round fight is the always dangerous Jorge Cota (28-3, 25 KOs), who most recently lost a disputed split-decision in April on FS1 against Jeison Rosario. The 31-year old from Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico had scored three straight knockout victories before the defeat in April.
The 29-year-old Charlo will now have to wait for his opportunity to avenge the only loss of his career and regain his title against Harrison. Fighting out of Houston, Texas, Charlo won the vacant WBC title with a devastating knockout victory over John Jackson in 2016. He made three successful defenses of the title with highlight-reel knockouts over Charles Hatley and Erickson Lubin, plus a majority decision win over former champion Austin Trout.
Harrison’s injury is the latest twist in the 154-pound division that started last December when Harrison and Charlo’s first encounter took place live on FOX. Harrison won the decision to upset Charlo and take away the title. The close nature of the bout helped warrant an immediate rematch that promises to be just as highly charged and dramatic. Julian “J-Rock” Williams scored a hard-fought unanimous decision over Jarrett Hurd as the IBF and WBA titles changed hands as well in May.
This setback for Harrison, who is from Detroit and was trained early in his career by the late Emanuel Steward, is another challenge for the 28-year-old champion. Harrison was on track for a title shot before suffering the first loss of his career in 2015 to Willie Nelson. After three-straight wins, he earned a shot at the vacant 154-pound title against Jarrett Hurd. Although Harrison had strong moments in the fight, he eventually lost to Hurd and was forced to again climb to the top. After another three victories, including a win over former champion Ishe Smith, Harrison took advantage of his second world title opportunity against Charlo