What is about to go down Saturday night in Monterrey, Mexico, is everything that is wrong with boxing. Vivian Harris is going to fight. He is taking on Jorge Paez Jr. in a fight that should not be taking place.
Paez was originally supposed to fight Erik Morales, but he hurt his hand and pulled out. Then the replacement opponent, Breidis Prescott, suffered a rib injury and also withdrew. That left Zanfer Promotions to find yet another option to keep the fight alive, and it came up with Harris.
Harris is a shot fighter. A badly shot fighter, who has not been a remote factor for about seven years. Ten years ago he was a top 140-pounder and held a version of a world title, which he still trades on to this day. It’s why a promoter, especially a desperate one in need of an opponent, will still put him on, even though he’s not that guy anymore -- or even close.
Harris is damaged goods. I don’t say that because I have read his medical reports. I say it because I’m not blind. Watch a recent fight. It doesn’t take a genius to know when a guy is not only done, but way past done and at risk of being seriously hurt because of the kind of hard head shots he takes with regularity.
In February, Harris (31-9-2, 19 KOs) was supposed to fight rising British prospect Bradley Skeete in London on the Dereck Chisora-Kevin Johnson undercard. But Harris failed his pre-fight medical exam and British regulators declined to license him for that reason. Harris was dropped from the card. He was saved from himself.
But the medical standards in Mexico, if you can even call them that, barely exist, so Harris getting a license to fight should pose little to no issue.
Why do you think the late Frankie Leal fought the last five fights of his career in Mexico after being destroyed by Evgeny Gradovich in Texas in 2012, causing him to spend more than three weeks in the hospital? It’s because Leal could no longer get licensed in the United States.
Leal got knocked out October in a fight against Raul Hirales in Mexico. He died from a brain injury suffered in the fight a few days later.
Since 2007, the 35-year-old Harris is 3-7-1 with one no contest. In six of those seven losses, Harris has been knocked out, sometimes badly knocked out. The no contest came about because of a wicked head butt that left Harris concussed and unable to continue.
The window dressing here is that Harris officially has won his past two fights, against a sub-.500 opponent and a split decision against Danny O’Connor, a solid pro, in what was in the view of most a horrendous robbery. Many believe O’Connor not only deserved the decision, but that he had won easily.
Those two bouts were in the United States, although at this stage I am not so sure Harris would be licensed in a state with decent pre-fight medical exams. But in Mexico, where suspensions in the United States or England are usually ignored, the standards are lax.