|I have to be honest; I had
no clue whatsoever that Vivian Harris was scheduled to fight this past weekend
in the U.K. I was more than relieved to find that his scheduled bout versus
Bradley Skeete was scrapped after he failed a pre-fight medical (Boxingnewsonline/Harris-fails-medical)
but the beat - or should we say, “beatings” - goes on in the hurt business.
It's a vicious cycle (and no
pun intended with Harris' moniker being “Vicious”) that you see in this sport.
Talented young fighters who are brought up in the sport are matched against
faded veterans whose best days are now just a distant memory, in their rearview
mirrors. Their résumés are used as notches on prospects’ belts, boosting their
records. The past sacrificed for the future.
Eventually, those same fighters are fed to a younger generation of fighters after
their primes have passed.
Harris was that young guy once. Way back in 1997 as he turned pro under the
Main Events banner, managed by the influential Shelly Finkel, Harris was a
fighter destined to go places. And eventually, he captured a world title (the
WBA 140-pound belt) by defeating Diosbelys Hurtado in two rounds. It was at
this stage of his career in which he could be labeled a world-class junior
welterweight, downing the likes of Souleymane M'Baye and Oktay Urkal (twice in
Germany) before getting tripped up by the awkward Carlos Maussa in seven
rounds. Most of his focus coming into that fight was on potentially facing
Floyd Mayweather (who headlined that card with Arturo Gatti that June night in
2005 in Atlantic City).
Despite the surprising
setback, Harris was still able to rebound with solid victories over Stevie
Johnston and Juan Lazcano, putting himself back in position to fight for the
WBC junior welterweight title against Junior Witter in 2007. He was summarily
halted in seven rounds and at this point, his career began its descent. In his
next fight, he hit the deck against journeyman Octavio Narvaez (who had a mark
of 7-4-1) in the first and needed a bit of a long count to survive the round,
eventually rebounding to stop Narvaez in the sixth.
But from that point, the two
recurring leitmotifs of Harris fights were: first, he gets sent to the canvas a
lot and secondly, he gets stopped.
In his last 12 bouts, Harris
has a record of 3-7-1 with one no-contest, getting KO’ed by the likes of
Witter, Lucas Matthysse, Victor Ortiz, Jessie Vargas, Ed Paredes and Brian
Rose. Once the cannon, Harris is now cannon fodder. He was blessed with the
classic punching frame, long and lean with huge shoulders that seemed to fit
more on a middleweight. Unfortunately, even during his physical prime, he was cursed
with legs as thin as Pixy-Stix and a chin that wasn't the sturdiest. In the
past, he was a dangerous-yet-vulnerable fighter, the type who could beat or
lose to anyone on any given night.
Now, Harris is just shot, a
spent bullet as they say in the sport.
His record stands now at
31-9-2 (19) but he still has a recognizable, useful name that is useful. Like
Roy Jones and James Toney, Harris can still find steady work if he has a working
passport to go with his unshakeable belief he can still turn back the clock. Coming
into this weekend, Harris was actually on a two-fight winning streak having
defeated the 11-18-3 Shakha Moore and Danny O’Connor, then 23-1. A perfect time
to be served up again to another fighter on the rise, this time, Skeete, who had
a record of 14-0 (4). A name like Harris’ would look good on his record and
provide the promoter with a familiar face to headline the event.
As this scribe voiced his
thoughts on the cynical nature of this bout on Twitter - even using the word “exploiting”
- the matchmaker of the event, Jay McClory (@LongshotsSports) tweeted out these
“@stevemaxboxing I am
the matchmaker for that fight. How many fighters have you matched? Vivian was
coming off a good win
how was exploited ? Boxer+ good record + 50/50 match+ coming off win over a guy
29-1+ WBA sanctioned + well paid”
After a few pointed out Harris’ recent decline, McClory then tweeted:
stats are stats you all clambered to watch Shane Mosleys last match that didn't
happen won 3 out of last 9”
Of course it has to mentioned that no rational fan really clamored for any of
Mosley's last few years as he was more saccharine than “Sugar.” While he wasn't
winning, at the very least, he was durable. As for the win over O’Connor, well,
let's just say it was of the controversial variety (http://www.fightnews.com/Boxing/vivian-harris-surprises-danny-bhoy-oconnor-228590).
By all reasonable accounts, Harris a fighter that should be put down. If he were
a horse, he'd either be taken to stud or the glue factory. But as I've said
before - boxing doesn't give you gold watches, it gives beatings. As long as
someone is willing to sign him up, Harris is more than willing to take them
till the bitter end.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Last year was not a particularly good one for the sport of boxing as it related
to ring tragedies, the most high-profile case involving Magomed Abdusalamov in
his loss to Mike Perez and Franky Leal (http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/63283528/)
and this year already, Mexican featherweight Oscar Gonzalez (http://ringtv.craveonline.com/news/317091-oscar-gonzalez-dies)
died just a few days after his bout versus Jesus Galicia. Gonzalez was just 23 years
The reality is boxing can be the most brutal of sports and sometimes it's not
just gross, outright negligence that can lead to deaths or long-term injuries
in the game.
Jake Donovan of www.boxingscene.com,
who watched Gonzalez's fateful bout, had this to say about this particular
“Gonzalez’s death will
generate plenty of conversation of how the sport is badly in need of reform.
However, the fight taken at face value indicates no evidence that Gonzalez was
led to slaughter. He was a promising featherweight on the rise and heavily
favored going into this fight. He even began with a knockdown but the fight
quickly evolved into a war. Gonzalez was holding his own but hit a wall in the
“In my opinion, to say more
could have been done to prevent the outcome is revisionist history. If we're
going to talk about reform, then a starting point would be the hypocrisy of
every boxing fan who thrives for a brawl first and thumbs his nose at the sight
or thought of a pure boxing match. Finger pointing needn't apply here nor is it
necessary. Instead, we should simply mourn the tragic death of a young man and
keep his family in our thoughts and prayers.”
OK, we are now halfway through February (and it's seems like it's taking
forever)...So Floyd Mayweather is going to announce his opponent this week,
right? And it just might end up being Marcos Maidana after all?...Golden Boy
Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer says there is no validity to Amir Khan facing
Adrien Broner on the May 3rd undercard...The Magdaleno Brothers with
trainer Joel Diaz might turn out to be a very good fit...Esquiva Falcao already looks like a polished
pro in there...I've already seen mock NFL drafts come out,; hey, I'll take
anything related to football...So the Slam Dunk contest wasn't exactly
reminiscent of the days of ‘Nique, Jordan and Vince Carter, huh?…
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