Junior middleweight world titlist Tony Harrison has suffered an ankle injury, forcing him to withdraw from his upcoming rematch with Jermell Charlo, Premier Boxing Champions announced Monday.
Harrison and Charlo were due to meet on June 23 in the main event of a PBC on Fox card at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas in a sequel of their controversial first fight.
However, PBC said Harrison suffered an inner and outer ankle sprain last week with torn ligaments on his right ankle and will be out for 10 weeks before he can resume training. The rematch will be postponed until later in the year, PBC said.
Although Harrison (28-2, 21 KOs), 28, of Detroit, is out, the show will go on with Charlo facing late replacement Jorge Cota in the new 12-round main event of the card (Fox and Fox Deportes).
In his second shot at the world title, Harrison outpointed Charlo by scores of 116-112, 115-113 and 115-113 to win a 154-pound belt on Dec. 22 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The result was viewed as highly controversial by many and the rematch was quickly arranged.
Now Charlo (31-1, 15 KOs), 29, of Houston, will face Cota (28-3, 25 KOs), 31, of Mexico, who is coming off a split-decision loss to Jeison Rosario on April 20. Cota said he is inspired by heavyweight Andy Ruiz Jr., who took a fight with three-belt unified heavyweight titleholder Anthony Joshua on four weeks' notice and knocked him down four times and stopped him in the seventh round of a massive upset on Saturday night in New York.
"Watching my Mexican brother Andy Ruiz fight last weekend, I am very motivated," Cota said. "I saw how he got an unexpected chance to become a champion and surprise the world. He has inspired me to win this fight in the same way. I will shock the world on June 23 just like Andy did on Saturday, for Mexico, the country that I love. This is the most important fight of my career."
Said TGB Promotions CEO Tom Brown, who promotes Ruiz and is also promoting the June 23 card: "As we have seen from Andy Ruiz's incredible upset of Anthony Joshua in the heavyweight championship fight on Saturday night, replacement fighters are not to be taken as a joke. Jorge Cota is a dangerous fighter. He has heavy hands and he's looking for an opportunity to make a statement. Jermell Charlo realizes just how serious this is and he wants to get his title back. I know he's going to be prepared to make his own statement."
Charlo was disappointed to have to wait for the rematch with Harrison but knows he has to take care of business against Cota or he probably won't get it.
"It feels like a heartbreak," Charlo said. "I was ready to destroy Tony Harrison and now I'm going to get in there and destroy Cota. I always pray for my opponent to have safe care and make it to the fight healthy. It's unfortunate that Tony Harrison isn't my next victim. I want the best Harrison, so I want him healed up and ready to go, because that will only bring out the best in me.
"I feel my title was taken from me and being held hostage and I want it back. I will go through anything to get it back. The moment he's cleared to fight I want the match and I will get my title back. I'm going in June 23 for a dominant victory with a ferocious attitude and a mindset to destroy, because I know I can't leave it to the judges anymore.''
The co-feature remains intact with former junior featherweight world champion Guillermo Rigondeaux (18-1, 12 KOs), 38, a two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist who fights out of Miami, set to face former titlist Julio Ceja (32-3, 28 KOs), 26, of Mexico, in a world title elimination fight. The winner will move a step closer to a mandatory title shot at the 122-pound belt held by Mexico's Rey Vargas.