Scott Harrison – The Man who would be Ken or Jim or Benny

15.04.05 - By James Allan: Scott Harrison has recently been quoted as saying that jealousy will soon force him to move from Scotland to Spain in order that he can enjoy a normal life. While no one doubts that wherever you go, there are idiots who can’t wait to have a go at successful people, there is perhaps a little bit more to Scott’s decision than this. Scott sees himself as the next in line of a long and proud tradition of great Scottish fighters in the lower weight divisions.. Ken Buchanan, Jim Watt, Walter McGowan, Dick McTaggart and the legendary Benny Lynch all enjoy fantastic reputations in Scotland as fighters who were successful at a time when boxing results were looked for in the newspapers and people would sit round the radio or crowd round the television to listen to or watch the fights.

It is no secret that attendances at Scott’s most recent fights have been disappointing but, on the whole, Scott has been well supported in Scotland. He has enjoyed sell out crowds for his matches against Julio Pablo Chacon, Wayne McCullogh and both Manuel Medina fights. These were fights that for various reasons captured the fans imagination. What should be remembered is that a night at the fights is not cheap. The cost of the lowest priced ticket for Scott’s fights at the Braehead Arena in Glasgow were £30 ($55), by the time you have paid for transport, a programme and a couple of beers it can be very expensive.

If you have paid out this kind of money you are going to want to be entertained, not watch the main attraction blow away an overmatched Ethiopian who has arrived by way of Sweden in less than a minute. Fight fans are not fools. They can tell when a match is likely to be a mismatch and they knew straight away that Harrison v Kebede was going to be a mismatch. Not surprisingly, they decided to stay away. The unfortunate thing for Scott was that this wasn’t the first time that the fans had felt they were being taken a little for granted.

The fights against Kebede, William Abelyan, Walter Estrada and Victor Polo didn’t capture the fans imagination for one simple reason, no one had heard of them. Scott has talked about only wanting to fight the best and throws names like Barrera, Morales, Marquez and Chi about on a regular basis, but for one reason or another, these fights never come off, more on this soon. Scott insists that he has received a lot of abuse from people who come up to him and tell him that he lost his last fight against Victor Polo. Technically it is true that Scott didn’t lose this fight.

The judges scored it as a draw. In reality though, he can count himself fortunate to have held on to his title. It was a close fight but in most people’s opinions Polo edged it. While many people would argue that a close decision should go to the champion, I can’t hold with that. The better fighter should get the decision, champion or not. On that night Polo was the better fighter.

To give Polo due credit, he was at one time a dangerous opponent who had been very unlucky in an earlier title fight, but by the time he was due to face Harrison, he was 35, old for a Featherweight, and was being seen as long past his best. That Scott managed to scrape a hometown draw against him doesn’t bode well for his future. How good Polo actually is or how poor Harrison is will soon be found out once Polo goes up against Juan Manuel Marquez.

Scott has also said that instead of boxing Michael Brodie at the MEN in Manchester, he could have been fighting Marquez in Las Vegas instead, but he was offered £100,000 ($188,000 in current conversion terms) less than he feels he is worth. According to Scott he was offered a 25% split of the money against Marquez receiving 75%. To quote Scott “The last time I looked, I was the champion of the world.” True, but so is Marquez.

In fact, he holds two of the four major belts and has recently fought a draw with the highly marketable Manny Pacquacio, a fight that were it not for a shocking first round, he should have won. What this means is that in America, Marquez is the draw. He is the guy who will bring in the vast majority of the TV money and his name will sell the tickets, not Scott. While nobody denies his right to earn as much money as he can, he has to be realistic. His recent record is not as good as he would like to think it is. A defeat (Medina), a disgrace (Kebede) and a draw (Polo) have cast doubts on his ability, he does not enjoy a big reputation in the States and if he wants to face one of the big names then he will have to accept that he is not going to get as much money as they are.

Boxing now competes against many different pastimes for the money in people’s pockets. If people feel that the product that is being offered is not worth the money being asked for, then they won’t pay for it. It is as simple as that, and in the cases of Scott’s recent fights, the product was not worth the money. It is no surprise that the Harrison v Brodie fight is on the night before the Hatton v Tszyu match, despite the fact that Scott insists he is no-one’s warm up act, this is exactly what this fight is, a great warm up for the really big fight that is on the following night, the hope probably being that the people who couldn’t get a ticket for the Hatton v Tszyu fight will go to this match up instead and cheer on a fellow Mancunian as he chases a major world title.

As has already been said, Scott Harrison has been well supported in Scotland. Fans are not prepared to keep paying out to watch Scott fight what they view as sub standard opponents. If Scott were to fight a Chi or a Marquez then win lose or draw, as long as Scott put up a good performance he would be acclaimed as a national hero in Scotland. Another problem for Scott is the fact that he is the one who sees himself as a potential legend whose name will go down in history.

Statistically, Scott Harrison is Scotland’s most successful World Champion. He has been the WBO World Featherweight Champion on two occasions, and has made 5 successful defences of his crown, but unfortunately for Scott though the belts don’t mean anywhere as much as they used to, like it or not he is seen throughout most of the boxing world as the lesser of the three major world champions and fortunate even to still have his title, and as has been previously mentioned some of the names he has defended against are hardly awe inspiring. The fans are the people who decide whether or not you should be remembered, not the fighters. And s far as the Scots fans are concerned he still has a way to go before his name can be mentioned alongside the exalted company that Scott would like it to be with.

I personally would be sorry to see Scott leave Scotland. He is our only World Champion and he has produced some great performances, the fights against Chacon and McCullogh come readily to mind, and a fit and inspired Harrison will give any featherweight, even Marquez, a hard night. But he has to remember that in spite of all the hard work he may justifiably believe he has put in to the sport, it is the fans that ultimately make the final decision on a fighter’s legacy. Instead of telling everybody how great he is and talking about jealousy forcing him out of the country, he should concentrate on delivering the big fight he keeps promising and fulfilling the potential that the fans hope he has.

Article posted on 15.04.2005

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