Boxing: Sweet science pays off for Harrison

Sweet science pays off for Harrison

The Scotsman – United Kingdom
Apr 30, 2004

Stephen Halliday

IT HAS long been known as the sweet science, although AJ Liebling
certainly did not have jelly babies or laboratories on his mind when
he gave boxing its memorable moniker several decades ago.

For WBO featherweight champion Scott Harrison, however, the phrase has
taken on a whole new meaning since he turned to sports scientist Dr
Niall Macfarlane for assistance in the wake of July’s numbing and
unexpected loss of his title to Manuel Medina.

The University of Glasgow lecturer has since become a crucial part of
Team Harrison, helping the 26-year-old Scot regain his belt and adding
a whole new dimension to his already unforgiving training
regime. William Abelyan, the US-based Armenian No 1 contender for
Harrison’s title, will be the next to face the revitalised champion
when the pair clash at the Braehead Arena on 29 May.

More of the aforementioned jelly babies later, but Harrison’s father
and trainer Peter first explained yesterday the circumstances which
lead him to seek scientific help for his son.

“After the first Medina fight, I wanted to make sure nothing like that
happened to Scott in the future,” he said. “We wanted to optimise his
condition and try and take every safeguard against the illness which
affected him against Medina.

“I was told Glasgow University was the place to go. When I first
contacted Niall, he advised me to do it through Sportscotland, but
they told me it wasn’t part of their remit to work with professional
boxers. I went back to Niall who then agreed to work with us.

“It’s been tremendous, being able to use all the technology they have
at the university. From Scott’s viewpoint, though, the best thing has
been the nutritional advice. He can have Frosties for breakfast now
instead of plain cornflakes and he’s also allowed to snack on jelly
babies, wine gums or raisins after training sessions to keep his
carbohyrdate levels up.

“Scott has always been fit, but now we are training him more
thoroughly than ever before.”

According to Dr Macfarlane, Harrison is as well conditioned as any
physical specimen who has passed through his science and medicine
department at the university. “We have had Ethiopian distance runners
here,” said Macfarlane, “and I’d say the best comparison I can make
for Scott is with them. His endurance levels and aerobic performance
are tremendous. He could easily be a 10,000 metre runner and if he
was, he would probably be Olympic finalist standard.

“When Peter came to me, he wanted to make sure they were never
blind-sided again by the kind of illness which caused the loss to
Medina first time around. Our technology, allied to his natural
fitness and dedication, has hopefully helped.”

The champion himself is delighted with the results of his work with Dr
Macfarlane and ready to step up another level against Abelyan in four
weeks time. “I feel there has been a 20 per cent improvement in me
since I started working with Niall,” he said. “I have no problems
making the weight now, I can throw more punches than ever in a round
and I’m faster than I was before. You’ll see an even better Scott
Harrison against Abelyan next month.”