TEN years is a long time in the world of professional boxing. In that time contenders can moulded into champions and champions can become legends.
However, it has become a far too familiar story to see some of the world’s finest fighters plummet into the abyss.
In June 2002, under the guidance of his father Peter and promoter Frank Maloney, Scotland’s top fighter SCOTT HARRISON defeated Victor Santiago in his hometown of Glasgow to become the WBO featherweight champion and write his name into Scottish boxing folklore.
After spending years battling his way up to the top of the domestic ladder, Harrison had reached the pinnacle of his career by becoming world champion and it seemed like nothing and no-one could stop “The Real McCoy”.
However, instead of being elevated to even greater heights Harrison’s demons sent him spiralling out of control.
The Bellshill-born brawler was gripped by alcohol and drug abuse, which plagued him throughout his career. In addition, Harrison suffered with bouts of depression, was stripped of his world titles, his boxing licence, driving licence, was declared bankrupt and spent three years in a Spanish jail for serious assault.
His notorious lifestyle has made him one of the most controversial figures in British boxing history and has regularly been shamed and exposed in the tabloids.
However in December last year, Harrison was granted a renewed boxing licence by the British Boxing Board of Control after having spent over six years out of the ring.
Now, ten years after his famous win against Santiago, Harrison is preparing for what would be an incredible comeback at the age of 34 and has sensationally claimed that he will be world champion again in September.
His last fight was supposed to be a defence of his WBO title against Nicky Cook in 2006, however Harrison failed to make the weight for the fight and was stripped of his belt.
He is now scheduled to make his return on March 31st on Frank Maloney’s show at Winter Garden’s in Blackpool and has insisted that he is in the best shape of his life and vows that he will make up for lost time, having spent the majority of his exile behind bars.
Observers have been quick to dismiss Harrison’s claim, but there have been plenty of fighters before him that have made extraordinary comebacks to the squared circle.
The legendary George Foreman retired from boxing in 1977 but eventually returned to the ring a decade later in order to raise money for a church he was involved with.
Then in 1994, Foreman shocked the world by defeating Michael Moorer to win the WBA and IBF heavyweight titles at the age of 45 in what is regarded as one of, if not the most incredible comeback in boxing history.
Even in the modern era, there are older fighters that are better now than when they were younger. Top boxers such as Bernard Hopkins, “Sugar” Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez will undoubtedly be an inspiration to Harrison, who still feels he has a lot left to prove.
His desire and determination to become the very best yet again could not be more evident, as on the day he was released from prison, the first place he went was to his father Peter’s Phoenix Gym in Glasgow to prepare for his impending return.
Harrison is certainly no angel, but if his passion is anything to go by then it would appear that he is a reformed character. Harrison had previously grew disillusioned with boxing after struggling to make the weight limit for many fights but when speaking to the media he insisted that he his back for good.
“I’m feeling good and can’t wait until March 31st because I have a lot of lost time to make up for”. He said
“My plan is to win the world title at super-featherweight in September then move up to lightweight and win that. It will probably be the WBO title but if there’s a chance to challenge other champion’s I’ll take that.
“I don’t believe that fighters are finished when they reach 30. I feel better now than I did in my 20’s. You can become unfit but you don’t forget how to fight – and I have kept myself fit.
“I also wasn’t involved in any wars when I was champion. No one bashed me up.
“It’s going to be a miracle when I win the world title. It’s a hard task but fighting is in my blood.”
Only time will tell if Scott Harrison can reclaim his former glory. If he is able to win two or three fights throughout the year then without question he would have to be in contention for a world title shot. Harrison let slip that WBO super featherweight champion, Adrien Broner is firmly in his sights.
However a fight with the high-flying American is a million miles away at this moment in time.
If Scott Harrison can pull off the unthinkable and become a three-time world champion after coming back from his living hell then surely he would have to be ranked up there as not only Scotland’s greatest boxer, but one of Britain’s finest also.
However, with Harrison things can change in an instant but many will hope that he repent for his previous sins and win back the respect and admiration of the boxing universe.