Scott Harrison emerged victorious from a savage encounter with domestic rival Michael Brodie Friday night, delivering a series of body blows to finish the brave Englishman in the fourth round.
The WBO featherweight champion reached the apron to a chorus of boos, but Brodie’s hometown advantage became incidental when the two fighters met at centre ring. Taller and with natural size and strength advantages, it looked a tough assignment for the former super bantamweight in his fourth crack at a recognised belt.
The opening round reflected this disparity in size and illustrated Brodie’s long absence from the ring. Harrison signified his intentions with a clubbing left hook and two stiff left jabs. Brodie was cautious, his footwork rusty and he appeared uncomfortable backtracking.
Harrison landed a thudding right-left. Brodie was too open, absorbing heavy hooks, and was staggered back by one punishing blow. But Harrison failed to land the successive punches to capitalise. The pair exchanged blows after the bell as the genuine friction between the two threatened to boil over. It was hard to see how Brodie could establish a foothold in the fight after the first.
But Brodie warmed to the task in the second, utilising the uppercut to break Harrison’s high guard, although he was beginning to show his usual swelling from the clubbing right hands Harrison had already landed.
Slowly, Brodie began to establish his own jab. Finding the rhythm that had been the trademark of his early career, a beautiful double left from Brodie was the highlight of the round as he began to expose Harrison’s lack of lateral movement.
The half-full arena, who embraced this contest as more than just a prelude to the Hatton spectacular, were relishing the exchanges - relishing a genuine contest with real international significance - something the British crowds are too often starved of.
Entering the third round, Brodie was really growing into the fight, landing heavy blows to Harrison’s body. Harrison was no longer dominant in centre ring. Brodie protected himself better and began to work off the jab, employing his superior hand speed and technique to take control. Another double left to the body and head caught the eye and the partisan crowd roared their approval. But as the bell rang, Harrison caught Brodie with a blow to the stomach causing him to gulp for air as he retreated to his corner. It had been another round for Brodie, but the dye was cast.
The end didn’t take long. Brodie hadn’t recovered and Harrison landed three consecutive blows to the body that sickened the proud challenger. Brodie stepped back and slumped to both knees and despite a brave attempt to answer Mickey Vann’s count, he was stopped with just 46 seconds of the round passed.
A jubilant Harrison spoke of his respect for his opponent, despite their clear dislike of each other in the build-up to the fight, his renewed focus following some unsavoury ‘social’ encounters in the past year, and of being willing to fight any featherweight on the planet.
With the departure of Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales and Manny Pacquiao to higher weight classes only the lesser blue-collar greats remain. But in Injin Chi and Juan Manuel Marquez, Harrison still has some significant opponents if he’s to establish himself as a dominant force. The problems Brodie caused him certainly don’t bode well for any clash with a polished practitioner like Marquez.
For Brodie, this fight brought down the curtain on an always entertaining, if sometimes unfortunate career and the gutsy Mancunian leaves the game with credit, dignity and the best wishes of those he’s entertained for the past decade.
Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?