By Michael Benjamin
It was a battle between two dangerous combatants when ‘Vicious’ Vivian Harris and ‘Vicious’ Jessie Vargas squared off in a non title catchweight scrap about a month ago. Vargas proved to be more ‘vicious,’ disposing of Harris in the first round. The pundits had a field day and many opined that the former World Boxing Association (WBA) junior/welterweight champion should have packed it in. this was not to be, however, and Harris remains adamant that he is a classy fighter and still has what it takes to return to the top of the heap.
“Of course I will continue boxing but this time I will stay at the 147lbs (welterweight) limit,” pronounced the former world champion when Kaieteur Sport spoke with him via telephone from his USA base last Monday afternoon. He said that he continues to share a staunch business relationship with head of Golden Boys Promotions, Oscar De LaHoya and has been promised another fight shortly.
“Oscar (De Lahoya) has promised me a bout at 147lbs but let’s wait and see,” said Harris. However, this bout would have to wait until Harris serves out a three months mandatory rest after his last knockout loss.
Harris has migrated to the USA after fighting a handful of amateur bouts and returned to his native country shortly after defeating Diosbelys Hurtado for the WBA junior welterweight title. During a recent discussion with this newspaper he said that he is currently expecting a bout against former International Boxing Federation (IBF) Junior/lightweight champion, Gary StClair in Guyana. Should the bout materialize, it would be the second time the two would be squaring off. Harris had won the first outing in the USA years ago.
Vivian said that his father Herman Harris, head of local promotions group, Ringside Promotions, is his point man in Guyana to organise the fight. “I am not certain what’s happening now with that fight; Gary (StClair) is saying that someone is going to do it but they are only going to pay US$5000 and I do not fight for that kind of money so I am not certain what’s happening,’ revealed Harris.
Elaborating further he said, “Back home my father was negotiating on my behalf but I do not know what is going on now because Gary is asking everybody to do it,” said Harris.
Head of Briso Promotions, Ceon Bristol had indicated an interest in promoting the bout and had recently returned to Guyana and initiated discussions with the management of Princess Hotel International to have the bout staged there.
Kaieteur Sport spoke with the promoter from his New York base yesterday morning in an attempt to find out the progress of negotiations. The former boxer said that as far as he knew all plans for the staging of the bout have been shelved. Mr. Bristol said that he spoke to Vivian and Herman and the latter individual had indicated an interest in co-promoting the event. “Naturally, I told Herman that two pilots cannot fly the same plane and I was only interested in going it alone,” disclosed Bristol.
Further, he revealed that with the type of funding necessary to stage the card and with recent loss suffered by Vivian, he has lost all interest in the bout. Coupled with Harris’ loss, Bristol said that StClair has recently surrendered a decision in a comeback bout in Australia, “I am no longer assured that the fight can sell,” said Mr. Bristol. Repeated efforts to contact Herman Harris for a comment, failed.
Kaieteur Sport then attempted to ascertain Vivian’s projections for his career and he replied, “I will now be campaigning in the welterweight division and upon the resumption of my career I would be better able to gauge my progress.”
Amidst such grandiose plans for his reinstatement into the fistic sport, Harris’ boxing future looks bleak. Other than his most recent knockout loss to Vargas, the former world champion also suffered a third round knockout to Victor Ortiz one bout earlier. The results of these bouts marked a drastic change of fortunes for Harris who had had a dream start to his professional career, winning 21 of his first 23 bouts with the only blemishes being a controversial draw to Ivan Robinson and a decision loss to Ray Oliveira.
Harris’ career received a shot in the arm following his October 19, 2002 victory over Hurtado for the WBA junior welterweight title. He successfully defended this title thrice before electing to fight Columbian, Carlos Maussa, in June 2005, instead of British world champion, Ricky Hatton, and was knocked out.
Undaunted, Harris rebounded with victories over Steve Johnson, Juan Lazcano and Octavio Narvaez, wins that inspired a promotional contract from Oscar DeLaHoya under the Golden Boys insignia.
Ever since then Harris, who was once considered an elite junior welterweight, was also forced to make ignominious retreats from the ‘square jungle’ starting with a controversial fourth round TKO to Lucas Matthysse and even before that bout he was engaged in a scary no contest against Noe Bolanos in 2009 and left the ring on a stretcher following a grotesque clash of heads. He is without notable victory since 2007.
After that fight, the pundits had written off the Guyanese pugilist and his beloved fans were screaming for his retirement from the sport that had brought him world acclaim. At the end of the Ortiz bout he had vehemently debunked claims that he was washed up and adamantly asserted that he is was not yet ready to call it quits.
Now some two months after his humiliating loss to Vargas, Harris remains adamant that his best days in the ring are far from over. He said that he is in a buoyant mood and is experiencing no ill effects after the bout.
He also said that he was unable to prepare properly for the Vargas bout because he only received a two week’s notice which was not sufficient time to whip his body into an acceptable shape. “Even though the time was inadequate I must admit that the purse was good so I decided to take it,” declared Harris. He has debunked rumors that he had thrown the fight for a price stating that he is anxious to get his career back on track. “Why would I want to throw a fight when a win would have propelled me among the top raters?” Harris wanted to know. He further explained that when he started training for his most recent bout he had tipped the scale at 155lbs.
He said that two days to fight night he had scaled off 9 of those pounds but had to trim off an additional 2 pounds to make the stipulated weight. “The effort was Herculean and was responsible for my weakened state,” explained Harris.
His decision to compete as a welterweight might be sound rationalization but the general consensus of the pundits is that he should call it a day. Vivian Harris refuses to support that view.
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