By Lindy Lindell
Photos: Bob Ryder
One right uppercut from middleweight Tony Harrison and it was all over. Bronco McKart said he got hit behind the ear and never recovered. McKart may have thought his ear was on the underside of his chin for all that his head was buzzing; he shook his head after that first knockdown and made his way to the ring’s far corner before engaging. Within seconds, he was on the floor again, this time from a left and a right. Another exchange and a perfectly-thrown straight right from Harrison pitched McKart forward to the canvas and referee Sam Williams waved the fight off with Michigan’s three-knockdown rule.
Steadily dancing while waiting nervously for the opening bell, Harrison responded to a taunt from a ringside heckler: “Put your money where your mouth is. How much you want to bet?” But those pent-up nerves seemed to abate with the ringing of the bell, as McKart rushed forward; Harrison allowed himself to be pinioned into a corner before re-setting and getting to work. That right uppercut between the McKart earmuffs and the fight was, in effect, over. The knockout was Harrison’s 15th in his 18-0 start; the 43-year-old McKart fell to 56-11-1 and probable retirement.
Smiling after the fight, McKart didn’t give Harrison his props: “No offence, but my girl could have knocked me over after that first punch. Harrison isn’t ready to go with the big boys.” At the press conference two weeks before the fight, Harrison said that he gave into McKart’s demands, but the last “demand” came from the WBU, stating that Ringside gloves be used for this WBU Middleweight Title bout; when the Harrison camp objected in favor of Reyes gloves, the WBU Chairman Don “Moose” Lewis interceded, saying that there would be no fight unless Ringside gloves were used. Ringside gloves were used and the choice meant little.
The crowd of some 1800 folks in Detroit’s Cobo Hall seemed a bit disappointed with the abrupt ending, perhaps expecting a more flashy Tommy Hearns type showing. Then again, folks generally don’t say much at executions. The nine-bout card is the first in a series of shows to be held at Cobo, with the next at least 90 days away. George Kaltsas (Kaltsas Productions) generated the most excitement for a show featuring a local matchup in more than a decade; Harrison’s fight for Kaltsas was the 4th in a five-fight agreement.
I’ll never forget it: at a press conference at the top of the Ponchaitrain Hotel, Emanuel Steward (the occasion was the announcement of Hilmer Kenty’s defense and rematch against Ernesto Espana—in Puerto Rico) said that Tommy Hearns and Kenty were then“too big” for Detroit. This is the collective fear and worry of those who are following Harrison’s career with anticipation. Harrison has been consistent on his insistence to keep fighting in Detroit: “This is my home,” he told Detroit Free Press reporter Terry Foster. “I live here, have my ups and downs here. I’m a Detroit guy, and I don’t want to just go and shuffle off to Vegas.”
The eight-bout undercard, all four-rounders, featured the rousing second fight of welterweight Michael Portillo, 2-0, Detroit, who drilled Jose Araquz, 0-1, Kalamazoo, in just 37 seconds; the less said about the rest of the undercard, the better: Leandre White, Detroit, 6-0, TKO3 Mike Pickett, 1-7, South Bend, IN, junior-middleweights; Dorell Van Horn, Jr., advanced to 4-0 with a TKO1 over Scott Dillard, 0-1, Flint, super-middleweights; Amanda Cooper, 2-1, Detroit, W4 Brenda Rodriguez, 2-7, Muskegon, welterweights; James Ballard, 3-0, Detroit, W4 Pete Cajigas, 1-5-1, Flint, lightheavyweights; Jafar Mohammad, 1-0, TKO1 Mathew Andrews, 0-1, Kalamazoo, featherweights; Anthony Barnes, 5-0, Huntington Woods, TKO4 Eric Moon, 1-6, Grand Rapids, super-middles; Ed Williams, 5-0, Detroit, W4, Rick Graham, 0-3-1, Detroit, junior-middles; and Dwayne Zeigler, 3-0, TKO1, Michael Jordan, 0-1, Detroit, light-heavyweights.