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Requiem for a Repeat

(by Chee, MaxBoxing)
(by Chee, MaxBoxing)

By Steve Kim


I have to be honest; I had no clue whatsoever that Vivian Harris was scheduled to fight this past weekend in the U.K. I was more than relieved to find that his scheduled bout versus Bradley Skeete was scrapped after he failed a pre-fight medical (boxingnewsonline.net/vivian-harris) but the beat - or should we say, “beatings” - goes on in the hurt business.
 
It’s a vicious cycle (and no pun intended with Harris’ moniker being “Vicious”) that you see in this sport. Talented young fighters who are brought up in the sport are matched against faded veterans whose best days are now just a distant memory, in their rearview mirrors. Their résumés are used as notches on prospects’ belts, boosting their records. The past sacrificed for the future.

Eventually, those same fighters are fed to a younger generation of fighters after their primes have passed.

Harris was that young guy once. Way back in 1997 as he turned pro under the Main Events banner, managed by the influential Shelly Finkel, Harris was a fighter destined to go places. And eventually, he captured a world title (the WBA 140-pound belt) by defeating Diosbelys Hurtado in two rounds. It was at this stage of his career in which he could be labeled a world-class junior welterweight, downing the likes of Souleymane M’Baye and Oktay Urkal (twice in Germany) before getting tripped up by the awkward Carlos Maussa in seven rounds. Most of his focus coming into that fight was on potentially facing Floyd Mayweather (who headlined that card with Arturo Gatti that June night in 2005 in Atlantic City).
 
Despite the surprising setback, Harris was still able to rebound with solid victories over Stevie Johnston and Juan Lazcano, putting himself back in position to fight for the WBC junior welterweight title against Junior Witter in 2007. He was summarily halted in seven rounds and at this point, his career began its descent. In his next fight, he hit the deck against journeyman Octavio Narvaez (who had a mark of 7-4-1) in the first and needed a bit of a long count to survive the round, eventually rebounding to stop Narvaez in the sixth.
 
But from that point, the two recurring leitmotifs of Harris fights were: first, he gets sent to the canvas a lot and secondly, he gets stopped.
 
In his last 12 bouts, Harris has a record of 3-7-1 with one no-contest, getting KO’ed by the likes of Witter, Lucas Matthysse, Victor Ortiz, Jessie Vargas, Ed Paredes and Brian Rose. Once the cannon, Harris is now cannon fodder. He was blessed with the classic punching frame, long and lean with huge shoulders that seemed to fit more on a middleweight. Unfortunately, even during his physical prime, he was cursed with legs as thin as Pixy-Stix and a chin that wasn’t the sturdiest. In the past, he was a dangerous-yet-vulnerable fighter, the type who could beat or lose to anyone on any given night.
 
Now, Harris is just shot, a spent bullet as they say in the sport.
 
His record stands now at 31-9-2 (19) but he still has a recognizable, useful name that is useful. Like Roy Jones and James Toney, Harris can still find steady work if he has a working passport to go with his unshakeable belief he can still turn back the clock. Coming into this weekend, Harris was actually on a two-fight winning streak having defeated the 11-18-3 Shakha Moore and Danny O’Connor, then 23-1. A perfect time to be served up again to another fighter on the rise, this time, Skeete, who had a record of 14-0 (4). A name like Harris’ would look good on his record and provide the promoter with a familiar face to headline the event.
 
As this scribe voiced his thoughts on the cynical nature of this bout on Twitter - even using the word “exploiting” - the matchmaker of the event, Jay McClory (@LongshotsSports) tweeted out these counterpunches:
 
“@stevemaxboxing I am the matchmaker for that fight. How many fighters have you matched? Vivian was coming off a good win #doyourhomework
 
“@stevemaxboxing explain how was exploited ? Boxer+ good record + 50/50 match+ coming off win over a guy 29-1+ WBA sanctioned + well paid”

After a few pointed out Harris’ recent decline, McClory then tweeted:
 
“@stevemaxboxing well stats are stats you all clambered to watch Shane Mosleys last match that didn’t happen won 3 out of last 9”

Of course it has to mentioned that no rational fan really clamored for any of Mosley’s last few years as he was more saccharine than “Sugar.” While he wasn’t winning, at the very least, he was durable. As for the win over O’Connor, well, let’s just say it was of the controversial variety (http://www.fightnews.com/Boxing/vivian-harris-surprises-danny-bhoy-oconnor-228590).

By all reasonable accounts, Harris a fighter that should be put down. If he were a horse, he’d either be taken to stud or the glue factory. But as I’ve said before - boxing doesn’t give you gold watches, it gives beatings. As long as someone is willing to sign him up, Harris is more than willing to take them till the bitter end.

HEALTH AND SAFETY

Last year was not a particularly good one for the sport of boxing as it related to ring tragedies, the most high-profile case involving Magomed Abdusalamov in his loss to Mike Perez and Franky Leal (http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/63283528/) and this year already, Mexican featherweight Oscar Gonzalez (http://ringtv.craveonline.com/news/317091-oscar-gonzalez-dies) died just a few days after his bout versus Jesus Galicia. Gonzalez was just 23 years old.

The reality is boxing can be the most brutal of sports and sometimes it’s not just gross, outright negligence that can lead to deaths or long-term injuries in the game.

Jake Donovan of www.boxingscene.com, who watched Gonzalez’s fateful bout, had this to say about this particular fight:
“Gonzalez’s death will generate plenty of conversation of how the sport is badly in need of reform. However, the fight taken at face value indicates no evidence that Gonzalez was led to slaughter. He was a promising featherweight on the rise and heavily favored going into this fight. He even began with a knockdown but the fight quickly evolved into a war. Gonzalez was holding his own but hit a wall in the 10th.
 
 
“In my opinion, to say more could have been done to prevent the outcome is revisionist history. If we’re going to talk about reform, then a starting point would be the hypocrisy of every boxing fan who thrives for a brawl first and thumbs his nose at the sight or thought of a pure boxing match. Finger pointing needn’t apply here nor is it necessary. Instead, we should simply mourn the tragic death of a young man and keep his family in our thoughts and prayers.”

FINAL FLURRIES

OK, we are now halfway through February (and it’s seems like it’s taking forever)...So Floyd Mayweather is going to announce his opponent this week, right? And it just might end up being Marcos Maidana after all?...Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer says there is no validity to Amir Khan facing Adrien Broner on the May 3rd undercard...The Magdaleno Brothers with trainer Joel Diaz might turn out to be a very good fit...Esquiva Falcao already looks like a polished pro in there...I’ve already seen mock NFL drafts come out,; hey, I’ll take anything related to football...So the Slam Dunk contest wasn’t exactly reminiscent of the days of ‘Nique, Jordan and Vince Carter, huh?…Ican be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.


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