30.05.05 – By Robin York: The long awaited clash between Scotland’s’ WBO Featherweight king Scott Harrison and Manchester’s Michael Brodie is almost upon us. Billed as ‘The Battle Of Britain’, this fight has been eagerly awaited for over a year now and in that time both fighters have changed dramatically. Brodie put up a tremendous fight in his first battle with Injin Chi for the WBC championship last October but had to settle for a controversial draw. The Manchester man was stopped in 7 during the rematch last April, ceding the WBC crown to the Korean brawler.
Harrison looked sensational when pummeling the US based Armenian William Abelyan inside 3 rounds last June, and stopping Samuel Kebede in the first in October. But the Glasgow slugger was subsequently out-boxed and in danger of being stopped in the 11th round of his defense against the rangy Colombian Victor Polo. A big drive in the final round from the champion earned him a controversial draw to retain his crown.
There is no doubt that the WBO champion struggles against technical boxers. Manuel Medina clearly outboxed him to take the title in what was Harrison’s second defense back in 2003. Harrison claimed he was ill after the fight and when he stopped Medina in the 11th with a fantastic performance to regain the belt 4 months later, you had to believe him.
The Polo fight served to reinforce doubts over Harrison’s ability to deal with the technical boxing style in January of this year. The Colombian’s jab could not miss the champion’s skull and his solid punches left Harrison’s face a bloodied mess.
However, for what the champion lacks in slick boxing ability he makes up in heart, determination and raw aggression. No matter how bad things were against Polo, Harrison kept coming forward and showed tremendous courage to battle through the 11th round and come on strong in the 12th.
Harrison proved that he belonged at world class level in his fight with Julio Pablo Chacon, whom the Scot overwhelmed back in 2002 to win the WBO title first time round. Also his revenge win over Medina and his 3rd round destruction of mandatory contender William Abelyan show he’s a worthy champion.
What really stands out as his career best win is the 12 round thrashing he gave the ultra tough Irishman Wayne McCullough. Most anticipated a close match up but what they got was a one sided pummeling and God only knows how Wayne survived.
On that form, Harrison looks unstoppable and what surprised McCullough the most was the strength of the champion. That strength is likely to be his key weapon against Brodie, who has looked a little fragile of late but is the one with the superior boxing skills in this contest and that’s what makes this such an interesting fight.
Both fighters’ strengths are the biggest weaknesses of the other. Brodie, who has previously campaigned at super-bantamweight, will be giving away natural strength but will have the quicker hands and better boxing technique.
The Manchester man has endured a hard career and has had to grit his teeth in many of his fights. He has done everything the old fashioned way, capturing the British, Commonwealth and European titles at Super-Bantamweight before challenging Willie Jorrin for the vacant WBC crown. Both were undefeated and it looked a compelling match on paper. Brodie, despite a few shaky moments, outboxed Jorrin for the majority of the fight only to witness the Sacramento man awarded the decision as a result of truly bizarre scoring.
Nevertheless, Brodie picked himself up and moved to the nine stone division (featherweight) where he pulled off 3 routine wins over Sergio Gonzalez, Frederic Bonifai and Sean Fletcher. He next took on the experienced Pastor Maurin for the WBF title at the cavernous London Arena on the undercard of Naseem Hamed’s comeback win against Manuel Calvo. In what was one of the fights of the year, Brodie, after flooring and outboxing Maurin early on, seemed to run out of steam. After being floored himself later on, Brodie had to grit his teeth and show tremendous guts to hear the final bell, to which he was awarded with a unanimous decision.
After a couple more routine wins over Luis Fuente and Juan Cabrera for the WBF and IBO titles respectively, Brodie had worked his way into his second title contention, this time for the WBC Featherweight crown against the solid Korean Injin Chi, which took place at the MEN Arena in October of 2003.
Chi, who was best remembered for his terrific war with Mexican legend Erik Morales, gained the upper hand early on against Brodie, flooring him in the second round. It looked very bad for the Englishman but he came storming back with excellent combination punching and digging body punches and the war was on. Both traded hard shots, but Brodie seemed to tire down the stretch and for many, Chi had done enough to win the belt. In one of the most controversial decisions, Chi was announced as the winner only for the verdict to be changed to a draw once the fighters had gone back to there dressing rooms.
The only logical outcome to was to have a rematch and the two met again at the same MEN Arena in April 2004. This time Chi proved totally dominant and was too strong for Brodie, who was eventually knocked out in the 7th from a body shot. Many believed that was the last of Brodie, but after 14 months out of the ring he is back in what is likely to be a very difficult fight.
Ideally, the challenger would have wanted to a warm up fight first, but as a fighter without many opportunities left, he had little choice but to take the Harrison bout. Brodie, whose record stands at 35-2-1, may have the greater experience, defeating solid European opponents like Salim Medjkoune, Serge Poilblan and Serguei Devakov. He will need to call on that experience when the going gets tough, which against Scott Harrison it always does.
But how much did those tough fights with Chi and Maurin take out of Brodie? He struggled with the size and strength on Chi, and Harrison is arguably the strongest Featherweight in the world. But Brodie is one the best technical boxers in the division and as already mentioned, the champion has had great difficulty with that style.
So this title fight really is about technique vs. strength and which of these fighters can impose their style more effectively on June 3rd While Harrison will start the favourite, Brodie has a real chance.