Boxing: Champion's 'fix' claim sours Harrison victory

Steve Bunce
Tuesday 07 January 2014 04:30
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The fans in Scotland know a thing or two about boxing. And on Saturday night they watched in genuine awe as Glasgow's Scott Harrison put up a faultless performance to win the World Boxing Organisation featherweight title at the Braehead Arena on the outskirts of the city.

Before the first bell there was an atmosphere that is hard to recall in recent years inside the cavernous and cold arena due to the fact that, for once, British boxing had a fighter in a proper world title showdown.

Julio Pablo Chacon had arrived in Glasgow eight days before convinced that promoter Frank Warren had made a dumb mistake selecting him as an opponent for Harrison. Throughout a week of gentle hype that turned nastier as the fight approached Chacon's mood altered and during the last 24 hours there was an ugly atmosphere.

Harrison never once lost his nerve in the fight even when his punches were falling short during the first three rounds and he was being picked off by the quite exceptional champion. The turning point was the moment in round four when Chacon suddenly found that Harrison's punches were no longer missing but were connecting with his head and gloves and this was because Harrison had moved six inches closer.

It was a simple adjustment and one that Harrison could have so easily made in the opening minute of the first round but he knew that if he had shown too much, too soon he could have fallen victim to Chacon's accuracy and found himself suffering a slow and terrible beating. By round eight Harrison had taken control and was able to meet every punch that Chacon tried with a counter or a defensive block by simply moving his feet in and out of danger. It was a truly masterful display but not one that casual boxing observers are likely to rave about because there was simply not enough blood and guts for modern audiences.

At ringside Scottish boxing icons Ken Buchanan and Jim Watt, surely two of British sport's finest craftsmen, looked on admirably as Harrison gently pulled away from Chacon, who had quite rightly entered the ring as massive favourite.

There are venues in Britain where Harrison's display would have been acknowledged as a good night's work but not applauded for the masterful exhibition that it truly was but in Scotland the fans, who have grown accustomed to waiting a long time for joy at boxing shows, loved every second of it.

Harrison won by two scores of 117-111 and one of 117-112 which is quite amazing considering it was only Chacon's third defeat in 47 fights and the other two were controversial. When Harrison's arms were raised in triumph, Chacon surprsingly started to point his finger at promoter Warren and Harrison and accused them of fixing the fight. His absurd gestures stunned both the boxer and the promoter because any neutral observer would have given the fight to Harrison by five or six rounds.

The preposterous fall-out continued later that evening back at the hotel where Chacon was staying when his handlers accosted one of the judges, Dave Parris, and made accusations against him. Parris is a big boy and ignored their suggestions.

Now Harrison is likely to fight the former world champion Wayne McCullough in the New Year in McCullough's Belfast or Harrison's Glasgow. On Saturday Harrison was brilliant and he will need to be as good if and when he meets McCullough in a fight that will surely capture Britain's sporting imagination.

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