It’s a fight that would fit on one of our networks, at least from a watchability perspective, if not from a budget perspective if you’re a bean counter at HBO or Showtime.
But unless you’re one of those internets wizards, who know how to access hidden sites that offer a pirated feed, no one here will see Guyana-born Brooklyn, NY resident Vivian Harris (28-2-1, 18 Ks, been K’d once) fight England’s Junior Witter (35-1-2, 20 Ks) in Yorkshire, England this evening.
Too bad. The former junior welterweight champion Harris is a talented hitter, who’s on the rise after hitting a career speedbump when he lost to Maulin' Carlos Maussa in a title defense in the summer of 2005.
Harris’ nickname is Vicious and he certainly can live up to that adjective when he sets his mind to it. He mixes his shots really well, setting the table with a fine, stiff jab. He sometimes neglects to target the body, but he can lead, he can counter, and he will make you pay if you make a mistake.
Will Witter, the 33-year-old WBC junior welter title-holder—he beat Chop Chop Corley for that honor a year ago—make a mistake? Entirely possible, because he’s never been in with a fighter as talented as Harris, save for when he fought a brutal stinker against Zab Judah in 2000.
He’s spent much of his time and energy pursuing a career-defining, or at least, bank account filling, fight against Floyd Mayweather, and Ricky Hatton. He has amped up his aggressiveness since he played keep-away from Zab in 2000, but he’s still prone to be smart, and stay away from trading.
“I’m a sensible thinking boxer,” he’s described his style, and while that’s a great trait when we’re talking saving brain cells, it’s not when your angling for a career-best payday.
Maybe not so sensible is looking past Harris to a fight with Hatton, which I predict won’t occur because Floyd Mayweather will tune him up and have him consider retirement. Also not sensible is looking past Harris to ponder a showdown with another Brooklyner, Paulie Malignaggi, who owns the IBF 140-pound strap.
TSS checked in with Paulie to see how he sees Witter/Harris unfolding. The mouthy Magic Man offered his take.
I don’t think Witter has been in with anyone as talented as Harris in a long time,” he said. “I see a boring fight. Maybe both guys will get knocked down, but they’ll be flash knockdowns. I see Vivian’s experience carrying him though. Vivian took his time after that loss to Maussa, and he’s back on the rise. I don’t think the action will keep up. Witter likes to take his time, so the action will be in bursts, not full-fledged. I see Harris winning by decision.”
On the subject of his own career, Malignaggi is the tiniest bit frustrated. He’d love to be on HBO again, but they haven’t showed the same inclination as of late, so it’s looking like he’ll box on Showtime on Nov. 3, against the IBF’s No. 1 contender, Herman Ngoudjo, a 28-year-old Canadian with a 16-1 mark. Ngoudjo opened eyes with a quite competent outing, a SD12 loss, against Jose Luis Castillo in January.
Paulie (23-1, 5 Ks) is feeling a bit stung that the nets are catering to outsiders as much as they are, and perhaps shortchanging fighters who labor under cover of the Stars and Stripes.
Every time I fight people, people watch,” said the 26-year-old. “Calzaghe/Kessler won’t be that big in the US. And Kendall Holt went to Colombia, he wasn’t getting on TV. This is American TV. But it looks like Showtime will step up, more power to them. I do feel like almost there’s an anti-American bias. I would understand it if we’re talking the BBC here but…”
That said, put the paycheck on Harris to hand Witter his second loss. No, trying to goad Junior into going toe to toe by saying he fights like a “coward” won’t work. But his superior skills, and experience on hostile turf (two wins against Oktay Urkal in Germany, and he sent him to the floor, which Cotto didn’t do, remember) will rule the night and the fight.