It all went horribly wrong for Scott Harrison in the second defence of his World Boxing Organisation featherweight title in front of 5,000 fans at the Braehead Arena on the outskirts of Glasgow on Saturday night.
Harrison lost on points to the Mexican veteran Manuel Medina in a fight that was as confusing as it was ultimately brutal to watch. Medina won a fifth world title in his 19th world title fight in his 75th professional outing.
From the opening seconds of the very first round it was clear that Harrison was not right, or that he had a cunning plan in store, because his punches were so wide and off target that even Medina looked surprised.
As the rounds followed and a predictable pattern settled the bemused crowd increasingly fell silent and an evening of anticipated splendour turned into a fistic horror show for the young Scottish fighter.
There were so many alarming moments and disturbing incidents that, at first sight, it appears difficult to see where Harrison can go from here, but young fighters do not grow old overnight and Saturday's fight was surely an aberration. However, as midnight approached in the hours after the final bell had sounded, Harrison refused all excuses and stubbornly insisted that he had simply had an off night.
If that is the case, perhaps his problems are very serious because even boxers having bad nights can usually run through a series of fight plans before simply giving in and offering themselves as surprise sacrifices.
Harrison tried one thing, and one thing only, for the entire 12-round duration and that was an attempt at knocking out the wily Mexican with either a lunging left hook or a similarly wayward right.
Medina, whose nickname is "the Preying Mantis", is not the prettiest fighter to watch. His features have been gnarled by fights since he was 14 and his style is awful at times, but there are moments when he is flowing that he is both gentle on the eye and painful on the head for his opponents.
Harrison ended the fight with a damaged nose, which had affected his breathing from round four, a cut by his left eye, which had ruined his concentration from round eight, and a series of other welts and ugly bruises that left him looking deformed and in distress. His spirits, however, remained upbeat and it is that character, that dour side of his Glasgow mentality, that will surely enable him to get back in the ring and most probably gain revenge.
"I have no excuse for what happened in that ring,'' said Harrison in the arena's car park just as dark finally fell. "My body wasn't right, I had no power. Nothing. But it will not be that way in the future."
There was some discussion and some of it was heated, held in private rooms, that perhaps at 25, after nearly 10 years at the 9st featherweight limit, it is time for the boxer to let his body naturally grow the four extra pounds to the super-featherweight limit. Harrison denied that making the weight was responsible for Saturday's listless performance.
One of the most disturbing aspects of the surprise defeat was that the fighter, urged on by his trainer, who is also his father, Peter, at no stage tried to vary his tactics. Not using your brain has nothing to do with either losing too much weight too quickly or being physically unprepared in any other way. Before Harrison gets back in the ring he will have to decide whether or not he is going to be a fighter with a brain and, at his level, it is essential that he does not rely too much on physical attributes.
Frank Warren, the promoter, could offer no other excuses and will push for a re-match against Medina in a fight that will be a major attraction in October or November, provided Harrison's face has returned to normal and he can resume sparring. It is not often that Warren is lost for words, but when the final bell tolled on Saturday night there was little he could do but shrug. "I have no idea who that boxer was,'' said Warren, pointing to Harrison.
Even Medina was slow to take control of the fight, but when he did step up the pace during the last six rounds he had Harrison in an awful lot of trouble. There was a sickening moment in the final round when two of Medina's legitimate shots to Harrison's stomach nearly bent the local boxer in two. Medina is a deceptive and thoroughly professional boxer, and there was a disturbing feeling at ringside when the MC announced that it was a split decision.
Luckily, two of the three judges made sense and Medina returned to Tijuana with the belt, but he will be back and when he does return he will surely start with more confidence. That, in a bizarre way, could suit Harrison. Part of the trouble on Saturday was that the Scot looked flat-footed and slow as he pursued the mobile veteran.
If Harrison does decide to remain at featherweight and if Warren can get Medina back to the Braehead some stage, it will be a real test for the Glasgow fighter. He found out on Saturday that hitting people is only part of the boxing business and sometimes a true champion has to use his mind as much as his fists in pursuit of victory. Harrison lost because he fought like a fool, but he is not that and next time, it is hoped, it will be very, very different.
PROFESSIONAL SHOW (Braehead): 12-rd WBO Featherweight title: M Medina (Mex) bt S Harrison (Scot) (holder) pts. British super-featherweight title: A Arthur (Scot) (holder) bt W Limond (Scot) rsc Rd8. Commonwealth super-bantamweight title: E Pickering (Eng) (holder) bt B Carr (Scot) rsc Rd4.Reuse content