Scott Harrison is a small man with big plans. He plans to rule the talent rich featherweight division before too many more suns set on his hometown of Cambuslang, Scotland.
Cambuslang is on the outskirts of Glasgow, a city with a reputation through the years of producing small men with muscular aggression disproportionate to their physical purchase. Like Scotland's first world champion — the great Benny Lynch — Scott Harrison is steeped in this tradition.
But with Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales and Juan Manuel Marquez all hovering around the featherweight limit, Harrison has a big mountain to climb. Don't, though, tell this to Harrison.
He routinely endures a punishing pre-fight training camp in the searing heat of Spain, including regular training runs up the side of a mountain. In Harrison’s' mind, despite their undoubted quality, the Mexican trio are merely another obstacle which will melt away under the relentless heat of his attack when the time is right.
This weekend Harrison meets Manuel Medina in Scotland on a card which, unfortunately, will not be shown on US TV. Showtime declined to pick it up. Harrison has vowed to make Showtime regret that decision, and he does not appear a man to be taken lightly.
Adding even more intrigue to the featherweight picture, this week also saw the announcement that Juan Manuel Marquez will meet Derrick Gainer on August 16 on an HBO After Dark Card. At present, Gainer rounds out the top four in the featherweight division, along with the three Mexicans. If Harrison is able to take out Medina, exactly which road leads to the top may become clearer for the Scotsman after August 16. First, however, Scott Harrison must concern himself with Manuel Medina.
Medina is a volume puncher with an elusive and often awkward style. Just ask Johnny Tapia. Though Tapia was awarded a decision over Medina, it was fight many thought Medina won. Medina stayed away from Tapia while relentlessly peppering him with shot after shot. Though Medina was throwing mostly arm punches, there can be little doubt his style caused the savvy Tapia fits.
Saturday night Medina has promised to shatter Harrison like a taco shell. More recently, however, it was Medina himself who was broken down and floored by countryman Juan Manuel Marquez. Marquez impressively stopped Medina in the seventh round, Marquez underlining his own status as one of boxing’s rising talents.
Come Saturday night Harrison will no doubt be trying to better Marquez in hopes of making a statement to the boxing public. Big fights lie just over the horizon for Harrison, with Golden Boy promotions currently considering Harrison as an opponent in the near future for featherweight king, Marco Antonio Barrera.
If his last fight is anything to go by, Harrison will look to break Medina down with a style built on white hot aggression. Though not known as a single punch knockout artist, Harrison is exceptionally strong for a featherweight and is bent on ceaselessly punishing opponents a round at a time until they submit to his will.
In his last outing Harrison gave Wayne McCullough a remorseless beating over 12 rounds which left many asking serious questions about McCullough’s corner, such was the violence of Harrison’s performance.
The Irishman, who has never been stopped, later admitted that fighting Harrison was like fighting a true welterweight. McCullough was simply overwhelmed by Harrison’s bludgeoning strength. This is the same McCullough who in defeat still put up good showings against both Eric Morales and Naseem Hamed. McCullough, however, simply had no answers to the questions being asked of him by the Scotsman’s furious attack.
It is the same approach that Harrison will bring into the ring with him on Saturday night. According to Harrison, there will be no surprises in this regard. He will not deviate from what has made him successful.
For Medina’s part, he has suggested that his experience and ring generalship will nullify the straight ahead approach of the predictable Harrison. Harrison himself has stated that it is one thing to know what is coming, but quite another to nullify it. He may have a point.
Harrison may just be the type of single minded fighter who can impose his will onto superior technicians. And Harrison, who appears to be improving with every performance, still sees himself as a work in progress. His desire to keep learning and to improve technically will no doubt be integral if and when he takes the step up into rarified competition against the likes of Marco Antonio Barrera.
Harrison dreams of one day facing Barrera in front of 50,000 compatriots at Scotland’s national stadium, Hampden Park. He dreams of resuscitating the old ‘Hampden Roar’, the crowd roar which once upon a time provided Scotland’s now fledgling national soccer team with the proverbial extra man.
For now, though, Harrison must content himself with focusing on Medina. The immensely experienced Mexican, who turned pro at 15, will provide an interesting test for Harrison. Despite the Mexican’s bravado this past week, Medina’s career is surely now on the downward arc.
A motivated Harrison should be able take care of the Medina comfortably. If Harrison does not stop Medina outright, he should at least have the Mexican reconsidering the appropriateness of his taco shell remark before the night is out.
In Harrison’s mind, Medina is only one more stop along the way on the road to the top. After Medina is dispatched, Harrison will go home and plot the next step of the journey.
In Harrison’s new house in Cambuslang — only yards away from the housing scheme he grew up in — a massive painting of Benny Lynch, as big as the man himself, hangs. It is somehow appropriate that the fighter from Cambuslang will continue his journey to become one of Scotland’s greatest boxers under the steely gaze of the little man from Glasgow.
Perhaps one day the names Scott Harrison and Benny Lynch will stand side by side in boxing lore. For now, it is merely a dream inside the head of the man from Cambuslang. Of course, it never hurts to plan ahead.