By Shaun Brown
Scepticism about whether or not Scott Harrison would actually return to the ring was not be quashed until he stepped through the ropes last Friday night in Glasgow.
“He’s due to be on next,” were the words uttered to myself and other journalists by a nervous press officer as the undercard rolled on without the proposed star attraction. “He should be on next. He’ll be on in a few minutes.”
With each passing statement we all sat and wondered whether a fighter who has comfortably covered more front pages than back in his career would be actually making an appearance.
Had the nerves gotten the better of him? Had he gone AWOL again? Was this the last rites to a comeback that never even got started? Questions, whispers, doubts and another rumour about Harrison being unhappy with his gloves were all doing the rounds as a healthy Kelvin Hall crowd turned out to see one of “The Prodigal Son’s” return.
“He’s definitely on next.”
Good. Now our curiosity was about to be satisfied by seeing what the former world featherweight champion, a once destructive force in the sport, still had to offer.
“There’s only one Scott Harrison,” sang one lonesome voice to my right.
The opening strains of the song No Church In The Wild broke out. The tune boomed out all around us. This was it. Seven years out of the ring, too many felonies to count and so much of a career wasted was o be forgotten about for a short while.
No matter what they thought of Harrison, every man and woman rose to their feet as the 5’ 7” enigma entered the arena. Nothing could be heard but a rapturous reception for this fallen idol. A black robe concealed him, his name printed on the back. He climbed through the ropes and saluted the crowd. This was a man who was a once feared animal in our sport and now he had returned to his natural habitat once again.
Human being to the mob
What’s a mob to a king?
What’s a king to a god?
What’s a god to a non-believer?
Who don’t believe in anything?
The lyrics from Jay-Z and Kanye West continued to bellow out. Harrison prowled around the ring itching to get started. This was the beginning of the unlikeliest of fairytales or the final chapter of what had become a long, drawn out horror story.
Despite his absence from the sport, his body showed the signs of a man who has put in many an aching hour for this one moment where his name would be in lights and the television cameras were watching him for the right reasons.
His face portrayed one of who had shared too many nights with either a bottle in his hand or staring at the four walls in his prison cell. But no nerves seemed obvious, just a desire to throw some punches.
Anticipation was now ready to be satisfied but heads began to shake as his opponent, Gyorgy Mizsei Jr made his entrance. Of course we were not expecting anything other than someone who could make Harrison look good, but nor were we expecting an 18-yea- old who looked even younger and had the body of someone who had not been fed in a while. Mizsei did ease our fears thankfully when he remembered to remove his blue vest that he wore on his way in.
“Does he need a headguard too?” I remarked. Thankfully Gyorgy boy had remembered this was the professional ranks.
The third best lightweight from Hungary tried to be elusive and offered little threat to a man old enough to be his father. He was hunted, stalked and hit more often than he thought he would be. And he probably didn’t think that Harrison would not reciprocate his offer of touching gloves early on. Gyorgy got the message from round three onwards.
“Dish out some punishment,” was shouted out from just behind me. Certainly one of the more polite gestures of support I’d heard in my time covering boxing. The elderly lady eventually got her wish.
Mizsei was eventually overwhelmed and happy to get out of dodge when he was put down in the fourth round. Ironically, the fourth occasion he had tasted canvas after sampling it as an appetiser three times in round two. With the fight waved off the Kelvin Hall erupted again in delight and relief. Their man had done good, he’d got the W and saluted each section of the crowd with a well deserved “Thank you”. Not a single boo could be heard.
Had it been worth the wait? Yes and no. The voyeur in us all wants to see where this is going to go. It could well end up being car crash television or it might have an ending that even Hollywood couldn’t muster.
Some of the crowd sadly left not willing to watch the true main event in John Simpson vs. Paul Appelby. They had paid their money and got what they came for. Harrison left to go backstage quickly followed by eager members of the media, who like those aforementioned supporters, were only there to see the return of “The Real McCoy”.
In the aftermath we have already had the ridiculous yet predictable talk of a fight between Harrison and Ricky Burns in the future. If it “don’t make dollars it don’t make sense”, eh?
Harrison himself has talked of world titles, not allowing his once controlling demons to take over his life and that he and his father, and trainer, want to get back to professional business in six to eight weeks.
Wariness will never be far away from those watching Scott Harrison’s career. He knows that one more slip up will likely see him ending up telling tales of former glories in many a watering hole.
The comeback is under way but how long is it going to last?