Scott Harrision should not be written off

04.02.05 - By Steve Mckenna: IT'S amazing how one fight can dent a boxer's reputation so badly but that's exactly what's happened with Scott Harrison. The WBO featherweight champion's gruelling battle with Victor Polo not only gave him a badly bruised face but it's also resulted in his good name being sullied in the media over the past seven days. There was always the suspicion that Harrison was a bit one-dimensional and would struggle against a skilful fighter who moved well. Manuel Medina suggested that was the case in their first fight and, for a few rounds, so did Walter Estrada. But Polo confirmed it so much so that the decision to award Harrison a draw was attacked as 'home-town' robbery by many..

Before the fight, there was much talk of how Harrison would beat Polo, then set up a mouth-watering clash with Marco Antonio Barrera. Ever the optimists, Harrison's team even argued after the fight that his below-par display would perhaps make a Barrera match-up easier to arrange. If anything, surely it'll be even harder. Why would Barrera, fresh from his marvellous victory over Erik Morales, want to face a man who's not a big-name in America and who laboured to a draw in his last fight?

Harrison and his team are in a tricky situation as they consider their next move. They could chase the Barrera dream, sure, and few would blame them. That's where the glamour and money are, but one suspects if a fight does happen it'll be very much on the Mexican's terms. And, with Barrera now boxing in a more cuter style, as opposed to his early-career brawling, the odds of him winning would be stacked heavily in his favour especially after seeing how Polo frustrated Harrison. Alternatively, Scott could direct his team into making a fight with WBC champion Injin Chi. The Korean recently made another successful defence of his title but, unless he can fix up a unification fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, he, too, seems short of options. Harrison would arguably be his next best bet. And, while Chi is a formidable foe, at least he would be right in front of the Scot, who much prefers opponents to come and fight rather than make life awkward for him. Whether that bout can be arranged is up to the two camps. It would be a cracker to watch, though.

The honourable thing for Harrison to do, I suppose, would be to give Polo a rematch. The Columbian deserves one, after all. For large periods, he outboxed the 'Real McCoy' in front ofhis own crowd and was distraught not to be given the nod. And Harrison could be accused of ducking Polo if he doesn't go head-to-head with him again. His fierce pride may not allow him to just walk away and simply forget about Polo. But, from a business point of view, it may be best to go down another road. That's possibly what his advisors will be thinking. The Scot doesn't deal with 'movers' well and Polo may just be his bogey-man. Sure, he battered Medina in a rematch, but Manuel is not as fresh, or dangerous, as Polo.

Another option for Harrison reared its head this week in the shape of Mancunian slugger Michael Gomez. The WBU super-featherweight champion stunned Harrison's old gym buddy, Alex Arthur in 2003, and has been looking for a big pay-day ever since. Harrison would have to stepup to the 9st 4lb division to face him, but that wouldn't be a problem for a man who somehow boils his huge frame down to the featherweight limit. Gomez also said he's willing to do battle in Scotland, providing the money is right, and he could be an ideal opponent, style-wise, for Harrison. His come-forward tactics are made for the Scot and, with Gomez far from fresh after a war-torn career, a Harrison knockout wouldn't be a shock. But, while it would undoubtedly be a superb fight, Gomez is hardly a massive name globally and doesn't hold one of the major belts, so it may not be seen as a wise move.

It has to be said that a lot of the criticism that's been directed at Harrison this week has been over the top. He is only 27 and should not be written off because of his lacklustre showing against Polo. Scott may not be a multi-skilled artist, a la Floyd Mayweather, but he is strong, durable, determined and has a huge heart, as displayed by his big final-round effort last week. And he still has a part to play on the world scene. But, if he is to make his mark, and be remembered as the British boxing legend he wants to be, he can't afford any more slip-ups.

Article posted on 04.02.2005

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