Harrison’s place in history assured

Harrison’s place in history assured
Stephen Halliday at Braehead Arena

The Scotsman – United Kingdom
Jun 21, 2004

THE superlatives flowed almost as fluently as the barrage of punches
which took Scott Harrison into the history books on Saturday night
but no matter the praise heaped upon him, actions speak so much louder
than words for Scotland’s WBO featherweight champion.

Even compared to the legendary Roberto Duran by understandably jubilant
manager Frank Maloney in the wake of his breathtaking third round
stoppage of mandatory challenger William Abelyan at the Braehead Arena,
Harrison’s performance issued a proclamation to the rest of the nine
stone division’s elite that he is more than ready to stake his claim
as the finest of them all.

Injin Chi, the explosive WBC champion from South Korea, is first on
the wish-list of Harrison’s promoters as the 26-year-old pursues his
dream of unifying the titles. Boxing politics may yet conspire to deny
Harrison the marquee fights he craves against IBF and WBA champion
Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico or his Filipino rival Manny Pacquiao,
but there can be no doubt now that the Glaswegian belongs in such
elevated company.

Saturday’s defence of his title was widely predicted to be Harrison’s
most difficult yet against the Armenian-born Californian southpaw
with a reputation as the wild card of the division, a man capable of
seriously ruffling the smoothest of feathers.

While Harrison’s ruthless dismantling of an opponent ranked in the
top ten by three of the major sanctioning bodies will not receive as
much exposure in the Las Vegas Sun as it does in the Scottish one,
he can be sure this result will be duly noted on the influential
American boxing scene.

“I believe I am the best featherweight in the world,” said Harrison,
“and I just want the opportunity to prove it. I want to collect all the
belts I can, I want the unification fights. After that, my goal is to
move up to super-featherweight and become a two-weight world champion.

“I honestly don’t think about the money. What’s more important to me
is the chance to go down in history for a long, long time. Anyway,
if you keep winning world title fights, you don’t have to worry about
the money, it will come automatically.

“I think I’m just about getting to my peak now but at the same
time I feel I can jump up another level or two if I need to in the
big unification fights. I want to keep busy now and I want to keep
making history.”

His defeat of Abelyan was Harrison’s fifth victory in a world title
contest, drawing him level with Jim Watt’s record for a Scottish
boxer. It now seems inconceivable that he will not go on to become
his country’s most successful pugilist of all time.

Despite well-publicised personal difficulties Harrison encountered
in the build-up to the contest, cleared of an assault charge just
nine days earlier, there was a hugely impressive, almost serene focus
about the champion as he entered the ring.

Any fears that the anger he had expressed over both the court case
and Abelyan’s pre-fight taunts would result in a dangerous lack of
concentration were erased from the opening bell as Harrison settled
into a slick rhythm of controlled aggression.

The challenger paid for opting to share the centre of the ring in
the first round, Harrison catching him repeatedly with straight right
hands and clipping left hooks to take the session convincingly. The
second round saw Abelyan switch to the kind of tactics widely expected
of him, circling the ring defensively and landing several accurate
counter punches on the advancing champion.

It was enough to win Abelyan the round and suggested Harrison may be
in for as long and troubling an evening predicted. Instead, it was
simply the cue for the Scot to produce arguably the most impressive
round of his career to date.

Closing down the space Abelyan was attempting to create, Harrison
regained total control of the flow of the contest. Another jolting
right hand staggered and dropped Abelyan for the first time, the
stunned challenger continuing after an eight count from American
referee Samuel Viruet. There was no respite, Harrison sensing the
opportunity for an early night and refusing to let Abelyan off
the hook.

A blistering combination sent him to the canvas again, Abelyan this
time sprawling forward in disarray and looking unlikely to beat the
count. Bravely, he did, but when Harrison swarmed in again, Viruet
stepped in to call a halt at 1m 45sec of the round.

“Scott made a statement tonight, not just to British boxing where he
is now the country’s number one fighter ahead of Ricky Hatton and Joe
Calzaghe, but to the rest of the boxing world,” said manager Maloney.

“I don’t think anyone in the featherweight division can beat him. He
is a modern-day Roberto Duran, he will fight anyone and he does it
for the glory and for pride in his country.

“My only disappointment was that we didn’t have a sell-out for this
fight. I know it was on and off a few times, which made it difficult,
but Scott is the most successful sportsman in Scotland and I hope
the people will really get behind him.

“If we can bring Injin Chi here, a guy who loves to come forward and
fight, it would be a massive fight for Scott and for Scotland.”

Chi, the 30-year-old Korean who travelled to Manchester earlier this
year to stop Michael Brodie and claim the WBC title, is scheduled to
make the first defence of his belt against Eiichi Sugama of Japan
in Seoul on 24 July. With the WBC last week filing for bankruptcy
after losing a dollars 31 million lawsuit to German boxer Graciano
Rocchigiani, the organisation’s future is clearly in some doubt but a
fight with Chi would remain a major attraction for Harrison no matter
how many titles are on the line.

“It would be a great fight for Scott,” said his father and trainer
Peter Harrison, “and those are the kind of tests he wants now. He has
never shirked anyone and he will fight any featherweight out there.”

Glasgow super-featherweight Willie Limond convincingly won a gruelling
battle against crude French champion Youssef Djibaba, to lift the
vacant European Union title.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress