Tony Harrison Gets Some Heavyweight Advice

photo by Nick Navetta — Indy 500 Winner Advises Detroit Contender

DETROIT– Memorial Day weekend usually means the Indy 500. The next weekend after that storied race is the Chevy Detroit Grand Prix. These are two giant motorsports events. Middleweight contender Tony Harrison is hyping his May 30th fight against veteran Bronco McKart as both a test and the next step toward a major title. He is also wisely cross-promoting himself all over Detroit to help ticket sales. He got a great boost from last year’s Indy 500 winner, Tony Kanaan.

The Cobo Center will showcase the McKart (56-10, 34 KO’s) and Harrison (17-0, 14 KO’s) rumble with a variety of ticket options. McKart, the former WBO light middleweight champion, now 43, has not had much action recently. “I respect Tony Harrison,” McKart said, “I think the world of him. He’s good for boxing in Detroit. But I’ve never taken a fight I thought I couldn’t win. I’ve been fighting for over 20 years and I’m not coming to lie down, that’s for sure. I’m coming with all intentions of winning the fight. I think it’s going to be a great fight.”

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Harrison, 23 and undefeated is a super-hot prospect. He is formerly of the famed Kronk Gym and got some mentorship from the late Emanuel Steward. He has speed and height going for him.

Harrison came to the co-sponsored Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association and Detroit Grand Prix kickoff luncheon recently at Comerica Park. He got some great advice from special guest and prominent race car driver Tony Kanaan. Kanaan is the defending Indianapolis 500 Champion. He drives the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet in the Verizon IndyCar Series and he knows how to come back from disaster. He had a bad crash in Detroit. He shared champion stories with Harrison. “To be a champion you need skills of course but you need a great heart to push you on when the times are hard,” said the smiling Brazilian. Kanaan will compete in the upcoming Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, May 30-June 1.

In 1997, boxer James Toney came to this same luncheon during his championship route. His manager, Jackie Kallen, asked me if Toney could be on this special dais as I had emceed the 1997 Indy 500 Pole position winner’s luncheon at the Ren-Cen, hosted by PPG and the DSBA. That year, the Dutchman, Arie Luyendyk won the 1997 Indianapolis 500 from the pole for his Treadway Racing Team. Maybe the Kanaan-Harrison racing-boxing connection will be just as good for Harrison.

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Raymond Rolak is a past president of the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association.