Tony Harrison (left), shown here with Emanuel Steward in July, fights on the undercard of Saturday's Wladimir Klitschko fight. (Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)
HAMBURG, Germany -- As the godfather of Detroit boxing, Emanuel Steward touched the lives of thousands of kids trying to make it in an unforgiving sport.
“He sure did,” said Tony Harrison. “And he never asked for a penny.”
The 22-year old Harrison is the latest potential star to come out of Steward’s stable. With crushing power and pinpoint accuracy, Harrison, Steward told me once, fought like a young Tommy Hearns. For the last year, Steward brought Harrison along to Klitschko camps and put him on the undercard of his fights.
Like many, Harrison was rocked by Steward’s death last month.
“It’s devastating,” Harrison said. “It came too quick. Everyone was expecting him to heal and get through it. But God called on him. Sometimes He just calls on you. But he’s resting now. He fought a hard fight and now he is upstairs, resting.”
In Harrison -- who will face veteran Daniel Urbanski on the undercard of Wladimir Klitschko’s heavyweight title defense against Mariusz Wach on Saturday -- Steward’s legacy has a chance to live on into the next decade. A rising junior middleweight, Harrison (10-0) has won eight fights by knockout, cruising to comfortable decision wins in the other two. Members of Team Klitschko say that in sparring Harrison has given Johnathan Banks -- a heavyweight preparing for a showdown with Seth Mitchell later this month -- all he could handle.
With Steward gone, Harrison is on his own, operating for the first time as a professional without a head trainer or manager.
“I’m speaking for myself now,” Harrison said. “That’s why it’s important for me to go out in this next fight and look good. [Manny] taught me a lot and I learned a lot. Now I’m just taking what I learned and try to get to the next level. It’s going to be hard to do alone. It’s why it’s important for me to win big in this next fight.”
Like Klitschko, Harrison has a little more fuel for this fight.
“I’m going to the ring with a chip on my shoulder,” Harrison said. “I wish he was here so bad. I miss him. This fight is for him.”
-- Chris Mannix