More Thoughts On The Harris-Maussa Fight

By Tom Donelson
Updated: June 29, 2005

Vivian Harris

Vivian Harris

JACKSONVILLE NEW YORK — Physical talent alone is not enough to become a champion. A fighter must have ring smarts. When he fought David Tua, Lennox Lewis showed ring savvy as he choose to fight Tua from the outside. He never allowed the moment overwhelm him and stuck to his game plan; knowing that Tua could end his reign as champ with one swift left hook.

Lewis used all of his advantages and simply walked away with an easy victory. Bernard Hopkins is one of boxing cagy fighters and always comes into the ring prepared for his opponent. He will outfox his opponent as much as he outfights them, which is why he is still an effective fighter at 40.

Which brings us to Vivian Harris. Here was a fighter who beat Oktay Urkal in Urkal’s backyard and has Emanuel Steward in his corner. When Harris stepped in the ring against Carlos Maussa, he had the opportunity of a lifetime. With an impressive victory, he became part of the battle for junior welterweights supremacy and some big money fights.

So what happened? Harris showed a lack of ring savvy and lack of control. In the first two minutes, Harris nailed Maussa with big rights and Maussa looked nearly out as he stumbled back continuously, but at the two minute mark, Harris slowed down with exhaustion and Maussa counter attacked.

Throughout the fight, Harris rarely used his jab and choose to exchange bombs with the tough Columbian, who was happy to oblige. Maussa started to go the body and after surviving the initial Harris attacks, he took Harris best with little trouble and rarely took a step back.

Before the fight, Larry Merchant reported that Harris weighed 134 pounds and even ran five miles before the fight. Harris came into the biggest fight of his career wound up like a tight clock. Between his own nerves and Maussa body attacks and awkward style, Harris tired out repeatedly in the second half of every round.

When Steward deplored Harris to use his left hook, Harris continued to throw monster rights. Harris looked amateurish at times, throwing wild haymakers but rarely did he set up any combinations.

The biggest difference in this fight was that Maussa fought a smart fight and fought within himself. He followed his game plan of body attacks and constant pressure. Harris failed to take advantage of his jabs and movement. He fought Maussa fight and paid the price for it.

What the Harris-Maussa fight showed, skill and talent are not enough. Ring savvy is the most important tool a fighter can bring in the ring. Instinct and coolness under pressure are the fighter best weapons. The biggest difference between these two fighters was that Carlos Maussa understood his limitation and fought within himself; whereas Harris failed to keep his composure.