All that Jay Harris knew about his scheduled showdown versus Paddy Barnes last October was that he was required to travel to the Belfast hometown of the three-time Olympian.
Even after his arm was raised in victory following a stunning 4th round knockout over the double Olympic bronze medalist, little was known of his next step, other that he’d earned the biggest win of his career.
“It was a risk I was willing to take,” Harris (17-0, 9KOs) told BoxingScene.com of his willingness to travel to the lion’s den without any assurance of what lied ahead. “I had no idea it was going to lead to a title shot. I had a feeling it would get me in the mix, but had no idea I’d have a straight shot at it.”
It turned out to be the right place at the right time for the Swansea, Wales native, who enters his first career title fight versus recently crowned flyweight champ Julio Cesar Martinez (15-1, 12KOs; 1NC). The bout serves as part of a loaded bill which is topped by a 12-round welterweight clash between former multi-division titlists Mikey Garcia (39-1, 30KOs) and Jessie Vargas (29-2-2, 10KOs) live from The Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas (Saturday, DAZN, 8:00pm ET start time for main card).
Also on the show, unbeaten junior bantamweight titlist Kal Yafai (26-0, 15KOs) defends versus former four-division champ and one-time pound-for-pound king Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez.
“It’s fantastic to be a part of this bill it's such a huge bill and it's not even on PPV,” notes Harris. “I'm lucky to have Kal Yafai out there as we been working together for our fights I can't wait to be a part of this bill.”
The 29-year old flyweight is a heavy underdog versus Martinez, which marks’ Harris’ first career title fight and first bout outside of the United Kingdom as they collide this weekend. As was the case when he traveled to Belfast for what was the biggest fight of his career at the time, the uphill battle which Harris faces this weekend leaves him equally unfazed.
“Coming in as the underdog is a good advantage because I have no pressure,” insists Harris, who also works at an Amazon warehouse in his Swansea hometown. “I’m going into this fight for the best world title—the WBC (World Boxing Council) title—and I can’t wait.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox