Can WBO Champion Harrison Turn Back The Challenge of Hussein?

05.11.05 - By Robin York: Scott "The Real McCoy" Harrison makes the 6th defence in his second reign as WBO Featherweight champion against big punching Australian Nedal "Skinny" Hussein tonight at the Braehead Arena in Glasgow, Scotland. The fight will be going out live on ITV, a major boost for the Scottish star who has a chance to turn himself into a household name. But like so many of his fights, this one will not be easy..

Hussein, who will be making his Featherweight debut against Harrison, has shared a ring with WBC Super-Bantamweight Oscar Larios and Manny Pacquiao, and has stopped 25 opponents in 39 wins, 14 inside the first round. Frightening statistics, but they are unlikely to scare the champion who himself hits very hard and will have a big advantage in strength going into the fight.

Hussein, who has had his success as a super bantamweight is full of confidence with claims that he is going to "knock Harrison for 6" and has even gone as far to say he could take the champion out inside a round. While that outcome is highly unlikely, this fight is a close one to call, with both having the skills to defeat the other. But this is the type of opponent Harrison needs, one that is respected world-wide and in return gives the champion the respect he deserves should he be victorious.

The challenger is no stranger to these shores. He came over to Scotland back in 2000 to defeat Brian Carr for the vacant Commonwealth Super-Bantamweight title and stopped Delroy Pryce in the third round at the York Hall the following year. His only defeats in 41 fights were against Larios and Pacquiao, who are two truly world class fighters. He fought Pacquiao in front of a hostile crowd in the Philippines and gave a good account of himself before being stopped in the 10th round.

Against Larios four years later, Hussein was systematically out worked round after round and sure enough dropped a landslide decision. Hussein was far too negative and didn?t seem put his whole heart into the performance. Since that defeat, Hussein has responded with three quick wins in his native Australia, knocking out Obote Ameme in one, Aree Phosuwangym in five and Mick Shaw in two last time out. Even though Hussein has impressive stats, the quality of opposition that he has faced hasn't been up to the standards of the champions.

Harrison is a year older than his challenger at 28 and has a 24-2-2 record which includes 9 world title fights. The "Real McCoy" has been matched tough from almost the beginning of his career. In his 10th fight he won his first title by outpointing Smith Odoom over 12 rounds. Despite being dropped early, Harrison responded impressively and collected the IBO Intercontinental title. Next he opted for the Commonwealth crown held by Patrick Mullings. Mullings, for all his experience couldn't cope with the Scot's strength and aggression and lost his title on points.

In his next two fights Harrison defeated two former world champions and looked impressive doing so. At the world famous Madison Square Garden in New York, Harrison showed excellent combination punching to outbox Tracy Harris Patterson over 10 rounds, and at the London Arena he similarly beat Tom "Boom Boom" Johnson over 12. Even though both Patterson and Johnson were past there primes, to beat that calibre of opponent after only 12 and 13 fights is extremely impressive.

Harrison continued to steamroll his way through the rankings, seeing off Eric Odumase, Richie Wenton, Gary Thornhill, Steve Robinson, Tony Wehbee and Victor Santiago all inside schedule and ultimately leading to a world title shot against Julio Pablo Chacon in October 2002.

Chacon had a massive edge in experience, but Harrison out-gunned him and overwhelmed the champion for the majority of the 12 rounds, taking the crown with scores of 117-111 twice and 117-112. His first defence of the crown came against former world super bantamweight champion Wayne McCullough which had fight fans split on who would emerge victorious.

McCullough, who gave Erik Morales a tremendous battle, was given a brutal pounding for 12 rounds in arguably Harrison's finest performance. Harrison had arrived big on the world scene, but as fast as he got there he was knocked straight back down again, when rangy Mexican veteran Manuel Medina won a split decision against a below par Harrison.

The "Real McCoy" claimed he was unwell and when he stopped Medina in the 11th in their rematch four months later, you had to believe him. There was no doubt about who the better man was on this occasion and Harrison was back in business again. He made an easy first defence against over matched Walter Estrada who wilted in 5, then crushed dangerous mandatory challenger William Abelyan in the 3rd for a stunning win.

Harrison, was gifted an easy nights work next, though no fault of his own, when dispatched of unbeaten but untested Samuel Kebede inside the first round with what seemed more like a glancing blow. In complete contrast to that easy night, the champion was given a hellish time by rangy Colombian Victor Polo, who cut Harrison up and seemed to outbox him only for the judges to declare the fight a draw. Polo, like Medina in the first fight, caused Harrison problems with his rangy boxing style and was extremely unlucky not to win, but Harrison retained his title with a draw thanks to a big effort in the final round.

But thanks to his 4th round KO of rival Michael Brodie last time out at the MEN in Manchester, that night against Polo certainly seems well in the past. Brodie gave Harrison a run for his money early on but was counted out in the fourth by a perfectly placed left hook to the body. It was a sweet victory for the champion and one he desperately needed to convince the world he is a genuine threat to Injin Chi and Juan Manuel Marquez.

A win over Hussein would certainly go a long way to in in rising his stock level in the U.S especially if he can do a better job than Larios or Pacquiao. And while Hussein has a genuine chance, Harrison's size should prove the key to victory. Expect Hussein to start fast maybe even winning the first 3 rounds, but by round 4 Harrison should come on strong, using his size and powerful body shots to break down a determined challenger in about 8 rounds.

Article posted on 05.11.2005

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