Boxing: Scott Harrison intent on making up for lost time
AFTER six years and five months out of boxing for many and varied reasons, Scott Harrison’s comeback at the Kelvin Hall in Glasgow on Friday night offered real hope that the former two-times world featherweight champion can return to the very pinnacle of the sport.
If he does so, it will be the greatest Scottish comeback since Robert the Bruce’s arachnid-inspired revival from his fugitive cave to victory at Bannockburn. Yes, that’s over the top but, if 34-year-old Harrison can recover from his self-induced decline to win a world title, it will be an inspirational story fit to grace the Hollywood screen.
His stoppage of 18-year-old Giorgiy Mizsei inside four rounds was better than anybody expected, and credit to referee Victor Loughlin for calling a halt to the contest at the correct time. Mizsei was very brave and got up from three knockdowns caused by body punches but Loughlin rightly said “enough” when the skilful youngster was felled by a succession of right hooks to the head.
Make no mistake – this was an improved Harrison in boxing terms. There were still the old Harrison trademarks of the left jabs followed by the percussive flurries of punches thrown in fast combinations and the constant no-step-backwards aggression that so bewilders opponents.
There was also that familiar skill of his in which he works the angles to cut across the ring so that an opponent has no escape, and you suspect that Harrison will never lose his seemingly inbuilt instinct for finishing off a victim of his relentless pressure.
Yet at the Kelvin Hall he showed something that he had not previously evinced – sustained correct punching as opposed to his old habit of slowing down and trying to club opponents, plus a devastating left hook to the body that almost broke the slim Hungarian lad in half.
“My body shots were strong,” said Harrison, “particularly that left hook to the body which I have been working on for three or four months.”
Harrison immediately declared that his aim would be to meet the winner of Ricky Burns v Kevin Mitchell after their Battle of Britain contest for the WBO lightweight title in September – Burns was ringside but he could not fail to have been impressed by the return of a champion. Just being in the ring that made Harrison happy: “The places I have been, I just couldn’t wait to get back in there and be doing my job, to fight in front of the fans and make money for my family – it’s brilliant.
“I’ll take a couple of days off, maybe take a holiday, but I want to fight in six to eight weeks. I’m 34, going on 35, but I certainly don’t feel it. I want to concentrate on boxing and making money, as I’ve wasted a lot. You live and learn, and I’m looking forward to this last chapter in my career. You need to remember that I didn’t get beat for the title [in the ring]. I went to jail, lost my licence, but I don’t live in the past, I look to the future.
“I train hard, I’m very focused, and I want to be world champion again.”
The main bout of the evening was for the British Boxing Board of Control’s Celtic super-featherweight championship. It was a rematch of the 2008 British featherweight championship between John Simpson of Greenock and Paul Appleby of South Queensferry, won by the latter man in the same venue.
Harrison’s spectacular return did not overshadow this encounter for this was an absolute cracker of a contest, the Scottish if not British Fight of the Year, with Simpson eventually prevailing after six rounds of all-out war.
Simpson was the better puncher but Appleby never gave up until the final two straight rights put him down for a standing count first, before the second to the point of the jaw knocked Appleby spark out.
Simpson’s power punching was the key: “I have been working with strength and conditioning coach Andy Armour. He’s brought my power on and I have moved up to super-featherweight so I felt mega strong. If I got beat tonight I wasn’t coming back. My defeats have been close and controversial and I feel I have been hard done by. But I took the results into my own hands. Those last couple of punches were as good as I have ever thrown.”
Simpson will now go for the British title, perhaps on the night that Burns faces Mitchell, when Harrison may also prove he’s ready for a title shot.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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