Boxing: Scott Harrison shows few signs of rust with dominant display on return to ring

SCOTT Harrison set out on the road to redemption last night in pulsating style, making his return to the ring after an self-inflicted absence of almost seven years with a dominant and impressive fourth round stoppage of Hungarian opponent Gyorgy Mizsei at the Kelvin Hall in Glasgow.

The 34-year-old Scot immediately set his sights on becoming a world champion again, insisting he will be ready to fight the winner of September’s WBO lightweight title showdown between his compatriot Ricky Burns and Londoner Kevin Mitchell.

It is impossible to fully assess on last night’s evidence whether Harrison is capable of once again scaling the heights he did in the featherweight division from 2002 until 2007 before his life and career fell apart due to his misdemeanours outside the ring which saw him spend more than two years in prison.

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But there was little doubt the Cambuslang man delivered a display which suggested he could yet again compete at the top levels of his sport. Harrison simply had too much power, desire and energy for the previously unbeaten Mizsei. The 18-year-old from Budapest was game and not without skill, but was floored four times by Harrison in a contest which became increasingly one-sided.

“It feels good,” said an understandably satisfied Harrison afterwards. “I’ve been away for more than six years and this fight just couldn’t come quickly enough. The reaction I got from the fans was brilliant, I’d like to thank them for that.

“I felt so much stronger fighting at lightweight and I think it showed. I’d like to fight again on 22 September on the Burns-Mitchell undercard in Glasgow and then I’ll be ready to fight the winner and become a world champion again.”

Harrison made his way to the ring in a black, hooded dressing gown, looking menacing and impatient to return to doing what he does best. Mizsei backed off from the opening bell, trying to elude Harrison’s marauding charges and pick him off with counters.

But although the youngster managed to land with a few jabs, they did nothing to trouble Harrison who was soon back in the old routine. The trademark left jab which served him so well at the height of his career set up several smart combinations which forced Mizsei onto the ropes and soon saw him reddening above the eyes.

Harrison also showed he has lost none of his instinct for sussing out an opponent’s weaknesses. In the second round, he began to land a wicked left hook to the body which the Hungarian, wearing his body protector curiously low, was unable to sustain.

Mizsei went to the canvas no fewer than three times from those body shots in the second round, bravely getting to his feet and seeing out the eight count on each occasion. He showed a lot of grit to stay on his feet throughout round three, but it was clear Harrison’s relentless attacks were wearing him down.

The end came after one minute and 30 seconds of the fourth round, Mizsei this time going down after three rapid right hooks had caught him flush on the side of the head. Referee Victor Loughlin had seen enough, wisely calling a halt to the contest despite a half-hearted protest from Mizsei.

Harrison celebrated as if it was a world title triumph and his joy was understandable. The International Lightweight Masters belt was wrapped around his waist, the prize for last night’s win but he will now believe far more significant titles can come his way again.

“I feel healthier than I ever did and I think my hand speed is better than it ever was,” he added. “Mizsei was no mug, he took a lot of good shots, but I think anyone in the lightweight division will struggle to cope with my power.”

The top of the bill contest at the Kelvin Hall saw Greenock’s former British featherweight champion John Simpson gain revenge for his 2008 defeat to South Queensferry’s Paul Appleby. In a thrilling contest, Simpson lifted the Celtic title with a sixth round stoppage of Appleby.