By BARRY WILNER, AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Jermall Charlo had every reason to be distracted when he entered the ring to defend his WBC interim middleweight championship.
Minutes before his bout with Matt Korobov, Jermall’s twin, Jermell, lost a unanimous decision to Tony Harrison, costing Jermell his WBC super welterweight crown. It was a new experience for both Charlos, who entered Saturday night unbeaten.
Jermall Charlo, left, punches Russia’s Matt Korobov during the 12th round of a WBC middleweight boxing match Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018, in New York. Charlo won the fight. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Jermall (28-0) kept up the family name with a one-sided 12-round victory over the game but outclassed Korobov (27-2).
“I felt like Jermell made his fight harder than it was,” he said. “I had a really tough opponent, but he wasn’t better than me. There was a lot on my mind in the ring.”
Jermall was emphatic at the finish — perhaps to erase any doubt with this set of judges. He staggered Korobov in the middle of the 12th round, and they slugged it out pretty much until the finish.
Jermall Charlo won 119-108 on one card, 116-112 on the other two. The AP had it 117-111 for Charlo over Korobov, who was subbing for Willie Monroe Jr. after Monroe failed a drug test.
“I haven’t been that far in a fight in a couple of years. It felt good to be in there, get hit and bang with someone,” Jermall added. “He was an experienced guy who will make me better.”
Earlier, Harrison withstood a late surge by Jermell Charlo to take his title in a unanimous decision that drew heavy boos from the crowd of 9,177 at Barclays Center.
When the verdict was announced, Harrison leaped around the ring in celebration while Charlo stood in disbelief. Soon after, Charlo broke into Harrison’s interview on Fox to say “You know I won this fight.”
Not according to judges Julie Lederman and Ron McNair, who had it 115-113 for Harrison. Robin Taylor scored it 116-112 for the winner.
The AP had it 115-113 for Charlo.
“I got back to my corner after every round,” Harrison said. “They told me to just keep doing what you’re doing. You’re dictating the pace. I dictated the pace. That’s what champions do. Champions don’t just try to knock people out. That’s all he wanted to do. I dictated it. I used my jab. I dictated the fight. That’s what champions do.”
Both fighters missed dozens of punches, but they also landed some sharp ones through the 12 rounds. Charlo connected with more efficiency, and he staggered Harrison toward the end of the fight.
But it was Harrison who was standing with the belt at the end.
“They took that fight from me,” Charlo said. “I was pressing the action. He didn’t win that fight. I’m going to get my belts back.”
Harrison said he would give Charlo a rematch.
“He’s a great champion,” Harrison said. “I’ve seen him in the gym, he’s a hell of a champion. I used my ring generalship.
“Jermell, you gave me a shot, I’ll give you a rematch.”
For his fourth defense of the title he won by knocking out John Jackson in May 2016, Charlo, 153 1/2 pounds, entered the ring in a black robe with a lion’s head. Harrison wasn’t outdone in the costume department, though, sporting and orange-and-black swirled pattern on his warmup suit, with his name and No. 7 on the back. He also was wearing eyeglasses and a bandanna.
After the victory, he was wearing a huge smile that didn’t fade even as the fans voiced their displeasure.
Now 28-2, Harrison lost his previous attempt for a title to Jarrett Hurd for the IBF crown in 2017.
Charlo is 31-1.
Dominic Breazeale used a monstrous right hand to knock out Carlos Negron in an action-filled heavyweight fight. Neither had fought in more than a year, but there was little rustiness once Breazeale got going after Negron controlled the early rounds.
Negron frequently landed left leads and had Breazeale off-balance early. But he also was hit enough to bleed under the left eye and from the nose.
Then Breazeale took charge, and the knockout punch sent Negron partially through the ropes.
Breazeale, 33, has lost once, to Anthony Joshua for the IBF heavyweight crown 2 1-2 years ago. He’s hoping to get back into the championship picture as a WBC mandatory contender for Deontay Wilder’s belt. Wilder was at ringside to see Breazeale improve to 20-1 with 18 knockouts.
“I’m next in line for Deontay Wilder, I’m coming for him,” said Breazeale, who outweighed Negron, 30, by 30 1-2 pounds. “I’ve been waiting for him and I did what I had to do. I’m ready for him now.”
Negron fell to 20-2. Both are former Olympians.