Harrison v Guzman Conference Call

26.01.06 - By Grant Jeans: WBO featherweight champion Scott Harrison had the chance to speak about his upcoming defence against the Dominican Republicís Joan Guzman on 25th March at todayís conference call and said, ďIím going out to prove a point to the world that Iím the number one featherweight on the planet.Ē

Promoter Frank Warren began by welcoming everyone and introducing Harrison, Peter Harrison, Father and trainer to Scott, and manager Frank Maloney. Representing Guzman, who was unavailable as he was completing his roadwork on the Las Vegas strip, was Michael Marley, Vice President and Director of Public Relations for Sycuan Ringside Promotions, who promote Guzman.

Warren spoke of his belief that this was going to be Harrisonís toughest fight and how he admired the Cambuslang battler for insisting the bout be made.

ďThereís no doubt about it this will be the toughest opponent but on the other hand itís also going to be Joan Guzmanís toughest opponent. Heís not been in with any fighter like Scott Harrison, who is one of the toughest, most rugged boxers around. It has all the ingredients to be a fantastic fight, which Iím sure it will be.Ē

Britainís most successful promoter continued, ďIt has the ingredients to be fight of the year, I think the Scottish fans are going to be in for a treat and I believe that Scott Harrison is going to show the boxing world another dimension to his boxing skills and what heís capable of doing.Ē

Warren went on to explain how he used to promote Guzman. In saying ďI promoted his debut many years ago in Madison Square GardenĒ, I believe Warren is mistaken if he was referring to the Dominicanís professional debut as that took place in Phoenix Arizona on 23rd September 1997 resulting in a 2nd round TKO of Juan Miguel Rivera. However if Warren meant Guzmanís MSG debut, and only pro bout there, then that was his second fight in the paid ranks against Henry Bowden three months later.

There is no doubt that Guzman was under Warrenís guidance when he won the vacant WBO super-bantamweight title back in August 2002 with a 3rd round KO of Fabio Daniel Oliva at Cardiff Castle in Wales.

Warren finished by saying, ďI can assure you he is a good fighter but I can assure you he is in with, I believe one of the most underestimated fighters in world boxing today.Ē

It was then the turn of the ebullient Marley to speak and he provided the most entertaining moment of the conference when he commented on Warren and Maloneyís, in his own words, ďamicable break up or divorce.Ē

He said, ď I have to tell you itís one of the saddest break ups since I saw Brokeback Mountain.Ē

For those who do not know, Brokeback Mountain is currently showing in cinemas and tells the love story of two young men who form an uncanonical relationship in the summer of 1963 and follows their complicated correlation over the following years.

Back to the conference and Marley shares his knowledge of Scottish boxing history. ďBut seriously I have to tell you weíre coming with a lot of respect for Scott Harrison and his Dad Peter Harrison. Iíve got some Scottish blood from the MacDonald clan and I can tell you from the days of Benny Lynch to Walter McGowan to Alex Arthur, Scott Harrison, Jackie Paterson and Ken Buchanan we know weíre going to be fighting a great tartan army but when the bell rings in the Braehead Arena itís going to be two great fighters and great fighters make great fights.Ē

Marley continued, ďI agree with Frank Warren that this is going to be a brilliant match. It is the toughest fight of Mr Guzmanís career and heís training very religiously in Las Vegas. We have the greatest of respect for Scott Harrison. I donít know about the rumour, heís a super man in terms of physical strength, but it says a lot that heís making a great title defence. He didnít have to take this fight, even though itís mandatory but he wanted to face the challenge. Weíre coming with total respect and weíre coming for victory.Ē

Warren replied, ďAlthough Frank and I remain close, we werenít that close, we didnít ride the rodeo together. I just want you to know Mike that I donít turn the other cheek.Ē

The question and answer session eventually gave the champion the chance to speak.
ĎThe Real McCoyí responded to a question asking if Guzman would bring anything to the ring he hadnít encountered before?

ďI canít see him bringing anything else to the ring I havenít seen before. Iíve fought a lot of good fighters through the years, Iíve fought in the Garden myself, many ex world champions, Iím on my 11th world title fight, so Guzman is stepping up in class to fight me, not the other way about. Once he gets to Glasgow to fight me, heís in serious trouble.Ē

Harrison questioned the quality of Guzmanís previous opponents when asked about Guzmanís reputation as a big puncher, and the fact that he hadnít repeated the punching power at featherweight, and if the ĎSycuan Warriorí could hurt him?

He replied, ďWho has he fought to be a big puncher? Absolutely nobody. Heís a big puncher against someone who isnít very good. In terms of big punchers, Iíve fought big punchers all through the years and at the end of the day Iíve got a granite chin so his punches are just going to bounce off my chin anyway, itís as simple as that.

ĎHadjií continued, ďThe fightís going to be a war, itís going to be an absolute war. Iíve got no disrespect for Guzman, heís a champion himself so he knows what itís like to be champion. Itís not a matter of punching power or anything like that, itís going to be a war right from the first round. Itís going to be cracking for the fans to watch.Ē

I personally think that Guzman will try to outbox Harrison, at least in the early rounds and try to adopt similar tactics which paid off for Manuel Medina when he beat Harrison and when Victor Polo came close to winning, but the bout was declared a draw. I have to say Iíve watched the clash with Polo several times and despite many observers insisting Harrison was very fortunate to escape with his title, I still think the draw is totally justified. Each pugilist won six rounds as far as I am concerned.

Working behind the jab, keeping Harrison at bay and picking him off with a range of shots from different angles while staying on the move is what works best against the Scot. Harrison feels that Guzman will play into his hand by standing and trading blows.

He said, ďItís suicidal if he does try it, thereís only going to be one winner. Heís going to get sparked right out, simple as that.Ē

Harrison also pointed out that the immanent birth of his second child (already named Maria) would not be a distraction. ďEverythingís fine, Jackieís (his partner) fine the wean will be born, hopefully in the next few days, but thatís not going to affect anything, thatíll just affect me by driving me more, striving to put money in the bank. Itís not going to faze me, thatís just going to give me a boost.Ē

This might not be Harrisonís farewell to the featherweight division after he revealed Dr Niall McFarlane has said thereís a good year and a half left in his current division.

The ĎCambuslang Clouterí, as he was once known, said, ďHeís checked my blood, my fat content and says in about another year and a half you will have to move up. So I will listen to the doctor, who knows what heís talking about. The last fight (Nedal Hussein) I was maybe a wee bit heavy because I had a gum disease in my teeth so I had to go on antibiotics. Thatís the reason I was heavy. Iíve got no problems with my weight.Ē

If a good offer comes in to fight at super-featherweight then Harrison is likely to be tempted to move up a weight. But for now he will remain at featherweight and pursue a unification fight at 126lbs unless offered the chance to become a two weight champion or a big money clash with a more renowned opponent.

Harrison added, ďIf I get a challenge at super-featherweight, with good money then Iím definitely going to step up but at the end of the day, I have to leave that up to my promoters and manager. My job is to fight and their job is to get me the right money and the right fights at the right time. Lets get Guzman out the road, Iím not looking past Guzman because Iíve got respect for him.Ē

There was also a question relating to Scottís standing among Scotlandís former world champions. Harrison became the countryís ninth boxer to win a world crown when he out pointed Julio Pablo Chacon in October 2002 and the first Scot to regain world status when he stopped Mexican Medina in the 11th round of their rematch, having lost a split decision four months earlier. Seven successful defences of his belt over the two reigns have seen him surpass Jim Wattís record of five wins in world title fights for a Scotsman.

Harrison said, ďItís up to the media to decide what they think about me and what Iíve done in my career. At the end of the day Iím going to be here a long, long time so itís not going to be ten or eleven defences, itís going to be a lot more than that. Itís going to be a move up in weight and I hope to God I can win other world titles in the future.Ē

At the age of 22 I am too young to comment on fighters that graced the squared circle before I was born and Harrison is the only one of the nine champions I have witnessed in the flesh through attending nine of his bouts. I have heard people say that Harrison does not compare to Ken Buchanan and Jim Watt and they fought a higher calibre of opposition but they must remember that Harrisonís retirement should be a long way off yet. If he were to secure victories over Marco Antonio Barrera and Manny Pacquiao, for example, and become a two or three weight champion, then his reputation would be greatly enhanced not only on the domestic scene but on a world basis too.

But first of all he will not take his eye off the threat posed by Joan Guzman. On paper it looks a cracker. The two fighters will bring the fire and fury and I recommend you readers bring yourselves to the Braehead Arena on 25th March.

Article posted on 27.01.2006

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