By Terence Dooley
Vivian Harris takes on Manchester’s David Barnes at Bolton’s De Vere Whites Hotel tomorrow afternoon on a Coldwell Promotions bill that has brought a bit of glamour to Britain’s small hall boxing scene. Harris held the WBA light-welterweight belt from 2002 to 2005 and was considered a potential opponent for Ricky Hatton prior to losing the title in a shocker against Carlos Maussa, who went on to net a showdown with ‘The Hitman’.
Although he has not won since October 2010, suffering four losses and a No Contest since a TKO over Octavio Narvaez in New Jersey, Harris believes that he can hand Barnes a defeat and begin the long road back to contention.
Barnes was supposed to face Giuseppe Lauri on February 24 only for the Italian to pick up a flu that nixed the fight. Promoter Dave Coldwell made the unusual move of rescheduling the bill rather than putting on a weakened show and this bold maneuver has paid dividends due to Harris’ involvement.
‘Vicious’ is no stranger to these shores; he travelled over to Doncaster to challenge for Junior Witter’s WBC 140lb belt back in September 2007. ‘The Hitter’ lived up to his nickname in that one, hammering Harris to defeat with a sweet counter hook in round seven. Vivian believes that the odds were stacked against him going in yet feels much better ahead of his second UK outing.
“I love England,” said the 33-year-old when speaking to Jane Couch MBE. “The last time I was here, I was in a bad situation. This promoter here [Coldwell], I really appreciate what he did for me and my team – he has surrounded me with everything. Some promoters bring you to fight their fighter and want the upper hand. This guy has been fair. It reminds me of Germany, one of the best places I went [when twice beating Otkay Urkal in successful WBA title defences]. Now I have to put here [Bolton] with it.”
He added: “I am here to show the world that Vivian Harris is still here. It was just a matter of getting the right fight at the right weight, and this is the right fight at the right weight.”
Barnes has held the British light-welterweight and welterweight titles. The mercurial southpaw disappeared for over a year after losing to current British 147lb boss Colin Lynes in the first stage of Prizefighter: The Light-Welterweight in 2009 before resurfacing with a decision win over Isaac Quartey in Rotherham last November. Barnes recently told me that he could still win a world title; the much-travelled Harris will provide a litmus test for these aspirations due to his experience and pedigree.
“I won all my fights coming up then lost one [to Ray Olivera in 2000], but kept fighting and won the world championship. I defended it against Souleymane M'baye, Urkal twice,” said Harris.
“I lost to Junior Witter, then I finished with [promoter] Gary Shaw because he didn’t protect me right. If you’re fighting away from home you need to get to the country early and stay in a nice hotel. I feel like I’m home now, man – I feel really good. I asked God for an opportunity and he gave it to me. I’m in great shape, great condition and have come to fight.”
Barnes, 25-2-1 (11), will have to be ready for a fight also; he will need to go beyond way his personal best if he is to avoid tripping up against the 29-7-1 (19) Guyana-born, America-based puncher.
To watch Jane’s full interview visit: http://www.youtube.com/user/JaneCouchBoxing .
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