Cooney and Black

The ruthless Scott Harrison will also need luck, plenty of it, if he is to rival Lazarus in the comeback stakes. But, take my advice, please don’t bet against him.

Boxing ring

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THERE is an obvious temptation to dismiss as fanciful the notion that Scott Harrison is capable of regaining his status as a world boxing champion.After years of self-abuse, imprisonment and various other well-documented travails that not even the average soap opera scriptwriter would dare offer as a plot, the ex-WBO featherweight champion should be long gone from the fight scene.

But, remarkably, Harrison is threatening to rise like a phoenix from the ashes at the age of 37 – an astonishing nine years after the last of his 11 world title bouts, against Australian Nedal Hussein.

A career and life that has been on an incredible downward spiral is, it would seem, about to be resurrected by the co-directors of Saltire Promotions and the St Andrew’s Sporting Club, Iain Wilson and Colin Bellshaw.

Some might suggest that the pair are in the redemption business; others that they simply enjoy an outrageous high stakes gamble.

But in spite of all that has befallen Harrison – most of it self-inflicted – he remains potential box-office, more especially if a bout with Ricky Burns, the former two-weight world champion, can somehow be engineered.

Regrettably, the majority of fight fans will have scoffed at the announcement that Harrison is set for a ring return at Paisley’s Lagoon Centre on the 12th of next month, against an as yet unnamed opponent.

There are significant hurdles to be overcome first, not least securing the blessing of the British Boxing Board of Control and the spectre of an extradition warrant successfully applied for by the Spanish authorities being enforced, leading to the very real possibility of a further four-year jail term.

Harrison, for his part, is confident he will escape a period of further incarceration, and, given what past glories Scotland’s most successful ever boxer – in terms of the number of successful world title defences he made at least – achieved, a large part of me hopes he does.

There has been enough misery and sufficient heartache for his family – especially his father and trainer, Peter, who has remained fiercely loyal through the bad times, of which there have been many. to feel the time has come for a period of stability and success in Harrison’s life.

Harrison has fought only three times in more than nine years, most recently against Englishman Liam Walsh, at Wembley Arena, for the European lightweight title, in April last year. Then, he was beaten on points.

But, amazingly, he is already eyeing another world title shot, even though he concedes that he may ultimately be brought down by boxing politics.

“It’s all about getting the opportunity,” he said. “Sometimes there are politics involved and I would be more surprised to get the opportunity, but I wouldn’t be surprised to win another world title.

“There have been so many hurdles through the years, so many ups and downs I could have lost my marbles. But this is a new chapter for me. I’ve been promised regular fights and that’s something I’ve not had since I came back.

“This is exciting as I can build some momentum and keep progressing rather than going back to square one every few months. People will see the Scott Harrison of old – if not even better.”

All being well, it is planned for Harrison to have further comeback bouts in February and March next year. Clearly, he does not do walking away.

“It would be easier to walk away as it’s much tougher to keep coming back. and I could have done so years ago and it would have been less of a sore head,” he added.

“But it’s not in my nature – I’m too stubborn. I’ll keep going as long as there is still fight in me, well into my forties, for sure.”

But can the Cambuslang boxer really defy Old Father Time after being handed one final chance to resurrect a career that was left unfulfilled nine years ago?

If anyone can, Harrison can. In all my years of reporting on the noble art , I have not encountered a more ruthlessly determined, single-minded individual.

I do not doubt, either, that Harrison remains in astonishingly good physical condition, given all that he has put his body through.

Yes, of course the reflexes are slower; the movement not quite what it once was; perhaps, too, some of the power has also gone from his punches.

But, if Harrison is to be believed, sports medicine specialists at Glasgow University say he has a heartbeat of just 38 and lungs double the size of someone of a similar age.

There was no mention of the size of Harrison’s heart, but I suspect that, too, is far larger than that of the average human.

Harrison has also maintained a strict training regime, working out two and three times daily even when he has not been fighting.

He will also need luck, plenty of it, if he is to rival Lazarus in the comeback stakes. But, take my advice, don’t bet against him.

Finally, I congratulate the organisers of the Commonwealth Games – widely praised as the best ever – for delivering Glasgow 2014 as much as £25million under budget.

I had plenty to say in the run-up to this summer’s sporting extravaganza about the cost of the Games – financially and in terms of the impact on many of Glasgow’s citizens – and I stand by some of these criticisms and concerns.

But, honour where honour is due, Glasgow 2014 was indeed pure dead brilliant!

 

 

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