Scotland’s Scott Harrison (27-3-2, 15 KOs) fought for the first time since 2013 when beating Paul Peers (who was 0-2 when fighting with a BBBoC licence) in three rounds on Saturday night. The 140lbs contest took place at the Northern Hotel in Aberdeen under the auspices of the British and Irish Boxing Association, who are not recognised by the BBBofC. This means that Harrison’s win will not be added to his official record on BoxRec or acknowledged by the Board yet the 42-year-old insists that this is the first step towards a world title shot, possibly against Chris Goodwin, who fights with the BIBA and holds the WBF title.
Former fighter Lee McAllister (35-3, 9 KOs) was instrumental in putting the event together under the banner of his promotional outfit, Assassins Promotions. The 37-year-old had once also decided to fight under the BIBA after becoming disillusioned with the Board’s practices. He infamously took on the shell of Danny Williams for the WBU heavyweight title in 2018 despite campaigning as a lightweight earlier in his professional career. That fight brought a lot of notoriety and attention to the BIBA. However, they still insist that they are going about things the right way.
McAllister believes that the BIBA is steadily on the rise and that the Board cannot maintain a monopoly for long, but, in the first-instance, he told Boxing-Social that he was just glad and grateful he could help bring boxing back to Scotland for the first time since the Lockdown began, albeit behind closed doors and streamed live on YouTube.
“It was a great show,” said McAllister. “It was great to get boxing back on for the fans in Scotland. This was the first Scottish boxing show since we began Lockdown. I was both over the moon and shattered at the same time — ‘mentally drained’ is probably the right phrase — but we go again in a few weeks. Scott had a fair bit of ring rust early on. Lockdown isn’t the best preparation for a fight as there isn’t a lot of sparring involved so he had that to shake off.
“In the first round, Paul gave a great account of himself, I gave him that round, and then Scott settled down in the second round to make it a closer round. Then in the third round he shakes off a wee bit of rust and, to be fair, he started landing the bombs. It was brilliant. I was actually disappointed that it was stopped so early. I was in Peers’ corner and thought they could both get a couple of rounds out of it. Then Scott lands a body shot in round three, an absolute cracker to the solar plexus that took everything out of him. It was hard to recover from that. Paul tried to box then got a jab right to the same spot and it was all over.
“Scott was absolutely delighted to be back,” he added. “Plus we’ve already got him new dates as well. I’m hoping to get him out in six weeks if we can. It is a platform for him to come back to a live show with cameras, although it was in unusual circumstances. Scott is a seasoned campaigner, so getting back in there after so long didn’t bother him at all. Scott is in the best shape of his life. He will get the sharpness back and all the rest of it. Scott is a very determined individual who thinks he can do it. It is very hard to argue with him. If he keeps winning and progressing then the title shots will come.”
Boxing, and our wider society, has emerged into the post-Lockdown world with the same suspicion and tentativeness as the people who climbed their way to freedom in Plato’s analogy of The Cave.
After years of living in darkness, they emerged from the cave shielding their eyes against the sunlight hoping that the pain, boredom and suffering is over or while also wondering whether they were better off inside. We are not quite sure what has happened, we do not know what will happen next and we are still trying to find our way in this strange new world.
“It was very, very strange circumstances for everyone,” said McAllister. “I’ve been a boxer myself. I’ve been on lots of shows over twenty-odd years in boxing and, in the respect of not having the crowd, it was a strange scenario. You can hear every punch. You can hear the corner giving advice to the fighters. It turns it almost into a game of chess in there because you can hear everything, even the commentary, but this is boxing fighting back and we have a show on in August first, then one in September as well. Then we want to do it every couple of weeks after September.”
Harrison’s comeback grabbed all the headlines. Many within the sport feel that he should have called it quits for good after losing to Liam Walsh by decision in 2013. A former two-time WBO featherweight titlist, the Glaswegian’s career and life hit the skids when he was arrested in Malaga, Spain, in 2007 and charged with assaulting three men. The case dragged on then he was eventually convicted in 2012 before being extradited in 2015 to serve three years of a four-year term.
A comeback was mooted upon his release in 2018 only for the Board to deny him the right to fight under their patronage. Undeterred, Harrison was granted a BIBA licence and whipped himself into shape. Call it closure, a crazy attempt to win a version of a world title or sheer bloody-mindedness but he is determined to continue.
Both he and McAllister believe that results earned under the banner of the BIBA should be incorporated into their BoxRec records, maybe along with an asterisk to point out that they are BIBA fights. One or two of the few members left in the once thriving yet now almost completely moribund BoxRec British and Irish forum have made the same argument. “Are a few people saying that?” asked McAllister when this was put to him. “That’s good.
“At the end of the day, the problem is that the British Boxing Board of Control is the longest established commission in UK so they want to keep control of everything and deny the British and Irish Boxing Association a place — they just want to monopolise everything,” he argued.
“They want people to think that this isn’t professional boxing when it is. They want people to be brainwashed, they want them to think that what they say is the Bible, but we are recognised everywhere in the world apart from in Britain.”
Images: Twitter @Hock1717