Bob Arum said Julio Cesar Chavez could fight Brian Vera next, and eventually, Andre Ward.
Harris insists he's far from finished
Former titleholder Vivian Harris insists he's better than ever and will prove it after a fresh start.
Vivian Harris doesn’t care what you think about his boxing ability or future in the sport.
The former junior welterweight titleholder, a native of Guyana but longtime resident of Brooklyn, N.Y., knows some fans dismiss him as a has-been after he was stopped in his last two title fights and because he has fought infrequently. Doesn’t concern him.
Harris knows his doubters question his chin. So what?
All he cares about is that he feels better than ever, has meshed well with new trainer Tommy Brooks, has corrected some mistakes of the past and has a new promoter – Golden Boy – he feels will lead him back to the top.
Harris (29-3-1, 19 knockouts) faces journeyman Noe Bolanos (20-4-1, 12 KOs) in a 10-round bout at a catch weight of 141 pounds Friday on ESPN2.
“I don’t care about them,” he said of the skeptics. “They don’t know me. They don’t know what I do, how focused I am at the gym. They only know what they see. I know what mistakes I made and what I’ve had to do to correct them.
“I know what this game is about; I’ve been in it a long time. One time they love you, then they don’t, then they do again. I just want to work hard to get better, to win fights.”
Part of Harris’ problem has been inactivity.
This will be only his second fight in almost two years, since he lost to 140-pound titleholder Junior Witter in September of 2007, because of contractual issues with former promoter Gary Shaw. Now, his former contract expired, he fights for Golden Boy and expects to get regular work.
However, when he did fight in recent years, things didn’t always go well. He suffered a stunning one-punch, seventh-round knockout to relative unknown Carlos to lose a world title he had held for more than 2½ years and then fell to Witter four fights later.
And even when he won, it wasn’t necessarily easy. He went down twice in the first round against inexperienced Octavio Narvaez before rallying to score a sixth-round KO in his last fight.
It was a far cry from the days when he was considered a rising star.
Brooks, who has worked with Harris in the past, attributed the fighter’s difficulties in part to his own reputation as a big, aggressive puncher. He went after his opponents with little regard to form or strategy looking for the KO.
“I think his main strength is his punching ability,” Brooks said. “And he has a jab like a right hand. That’s the key to everything. When you have a puncher like him, though, sometimes they forget to set up; they just start winging punches and get caught in the process.
“He’s gotta box and let it happen. Don’t force it.”
Harris attributed his problems in part to his diet. He said he always worked hard but, in an effort to make weight, he ate like a bird – consuming almost exclusively protein -- and barely hydrated at all. Thus, he said, he was listless when it was time to train or fight.
Now he works with a nutritionist and feels great.
“I’m doing things differently, doing things smarter,” he said. “I’m training wiser. In the past, believe it or not, I drank one glass a water a day. So when I got hit, I got dropped. I was running, training as hard as a I could. I wasn’t sparring like I should, though.
“Now I drink a gallon a day and eat carbs, but at the right time. And I’m sparring 10 rounds in the gym with two, three different guys and feel good.”
He also feels good about his boxing. With so much time off, he has spent a lot of time in the gym refining his technique. At 31 and a professional boxer for almost 12 years, he and his handlers feel he has the knowledge to be better than he ever was.
Of course, the skeptics will have to see that to believe it. Brooks, too.
“That’s the nature of the beast,” Brooks said. “They want to see if he’s changed or not. A lot of fighters get to the top and then lose focus. I think Vivian is better now than he was before because he’s thinking more. He’s matured, evolved. It’s just a matter of him doing what he did in the gym, which is a problem sometimes, guys doing something different.
“Is he going to surprise people? I would hope so. But you never know until the bell rings.”
Michael Rosenthal can be reached at RingTVeditor@yahoo.com