By JE Grant
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. --- Dominick Guinn, 26-3-1 (18 KOs), Little Rock, 228, outworked a lackluster Audley Harrison, 19-2 (14 KOs), England, 255, to take a clear and unanimous 10-round decision and reclaim some lost ground in his once promising career Friday night.
Guinn and Harrison were competing in what many saw as a wasted-talent contest. Both men demonstrated extraordinary talent early in their amateur and professional careers only to be knocked off track as they neared the elite of the division.
For the Guinn fight, Harrison seemed to have simply picked up where he left off with Danny Williams in England in his last fight. Long periods of posing. No jab to speak of. Rare combinations. No obvious desire to win.
He claimed going in that his training and focus were improved but it just did not show.
Guinn, himself guilty of letting fights slip away to lesser talents, obviously came to win. Taking advantage of the invitation to fight inside against his much taller opponent, Guinn belted Harrison to the body and scored with occasional combinations to the head throughout the contest.
Sporadic left hands from the southpaw Harrison enabled him to pick up three rounds in the bout but certainly not convincingly.
The second half of the fight was almost all Guinn as he continually worked inside and Harrison did not make him pay to work his way in. The bigger man landed left uppercuts that had some steam but they were rare and not followed with any substantial follow-up.
Scoring of the bout was 98-92; 97-93; and 97-93 all for Guinn. JEBoxing scored the bout 97-93.
Harrison, of course, is a one-time super-heavyweight Olympic gold medal winner. Rarely does a heavyweight skill-fighter such as Harrison come along with physical advantages that others could only dream about.
At nearly 6’6", the southpaw Harrison gutted his way to the gold in Sydney through injury and pain. He seemed to be the complete package; size, skill, power, and grit. The ingredients of a professional heavyweight hero.
Although relatively old at age 29 for his pro debut, Harrison proceeded with great fanfare into the paid ranks.
He went for the gold early as pro with a fat television contract with the BBC. He pounded a series of low-level opponents, but the folks at the BBC were not thrilled with continuing to spend the big bucks to maintain the contract when its three-year run ended.
Moving his fight plan to the United States he took on tough journeymen Robert Davis and Robert Wiggins and appeared on the verge of a top ten breakthrough.
His Commonwealth title contest with former world title challenger – and conqueror of the vestiges of Mike Tyson – Danny Williams was supposed to be the "name" on his record that would propel him to a major bout.
Instead it was the comebacking Williams who claimed victory with a close 12-round decision and with it a chance for bigger paydays. (In fact he went on take a win in his next bout over the previously undefeated Matt Skelton in another all-British affair).
While Harrison, at age 34 was fighting to get back on track, Guinn, nearly 31, was struggling to keep himself off the club-show circuit.
Like Harrison, Guinn was an amateur star. In logging more than 300 amateur bouts, Guinn came close to capturing an Olympic bid before losing to Calvin Brock in the American trials.
Unlike Harrison, he gained an early professional reputation as a prospect with considerable skill and sharp power. His left hook was compared to the legends of the game for its quick, hard delivery.
High visibility wins over one-time prospect Michael Grant and Duncan Dokiwari, shown to HBO audiences, led to the label of him being the "next" big thing. He seemed complete.
Then it all came crashing down. A clear points loss to highly ranked contender Monte Barrett was first seen as a stumble. Two fights later, another points loss, this time to the talented Serguei Lyakhovich (the new WBO titlist) and the whispers began.
His next fight ended in a draw with Friday Ahunanya, who was coming off two losses. Not incidentally, Ahunanya went on to a stoppage loss to Sultan Ibragimov in his next bout.
Now the whispers turned into major doubts. A chance at redemption ended in a disappointing decision loss to James Toney.
With that loss, Guinn entered the ring against Harrison not on HBO but on ESPN2. He also entered not as the featured fighter but as the "name" opponent.
Now a winner once more, Guinn will undoubtedly move ahead in rankings and money fights.
For Audley Harrison, now with back-to-back losses, time is running out.