Vivian Harris, known as “Vicious,” had some roller-coaster ring career. On one of his best nights, Harris could defeat good fighters like Diosbelys Hurtado, Oktay Urkal, Golden Johnson, and Stevie Johnston, yet on another night he could be beaten by Carlos Maussa and Junior Witter.
Harris, who exited with a hard-earned 33-12-2(19) record in July of 2018, this after scoring a win over DeMarcus Corley, says today that he was “set up” in the title-losing fight with the ungainly but dangerous Maussa.
Here, 43-year-old Harris of Georgetown, Guyana kindly recalls his ups and downs for ESB:
Q: It’s great to speak with you, champ. This year marks the 20th anniversary of you becoming WBA 140 pound champ, with your quick KO win over Diosbelys Hurtado. Hurtado gave Pernell Whitaker real problems yet you stopped him in two rounds.
Vivian Harris: “Oh, time do fly (laughs). Yeah, he was a good fighter – that fight seems like just yesterday. It wasn’t a surprise that I beat him so quick, because I prepared for three months for the fight. I’d watched his fights, and I practiced over and over what I would do in that fight. And it happened for me and they stopped the fight. He did give Whitaker trouble; I watched the tape of that fight and I formulated my game plan.”
Q: You had some great wins in your career, but would you say that was your very best win?
VH: “Oh yeah, that was the world championship win; that’s why it was the best fight.”
Q: You defended the title successfully three times, beating Souleymane M’baye and Oktay Urkal twice, with both Urkal fights coming in Germany. How good were those two guys?
VH: “M’baye was a good fighter, he was very technical. I liked fighting in Vegas, I never had a problem out there. I loved it fighting in Germany, and I really loved it fighting in London, too. Urkal was a guy I had to get out of the way.”
Q: What happened in the Carlos Maussa fight? He stopped you in the 7th round in a wild fight, with you losing the title.
VH: “I really do think I was set up in that fight. If you look at the video, when I got dropped, he hit me on the head when I was on the ground. At that time, I was supposed to get a fight with Ricky Hatton. But then he [Maussa] beat me and I only got $50,000 for that fight. Against Hatton, I’d have made a lot of money. So the Maussa fight was a business fight. They wanted to set me up to get me out of the way and that’s what they did to me.”
Q: If you had fought Hatton, what do you think would have happened?
VH: “Yeah it would have been a good fight. I had the confidence that I would have beat him. He would have struggled with my style in that fight.”
Q: You regrouped after the loss to Maussa, beating Stevie Johnston and Juan Lazcano, and that got you a shot at Junior Witter’s WBC title.
VH: “Yeah, Johnston was a good fighter. I always fought good fighters; I wanted the best. I still wanted the Ricky Hatton fight at that time. I had my ups and downs in the ring. I only ever took tough fights with good fighters. To be honest with you, I’d say Junior Witter was the best guy I ever faced. He was such an awkward fighter. His style, he was so hard to hit. He moved a lot and he was just very, very awkward. He was the guy I had the most trouble with.”
Q: You certainly didn’t duck anyone, or pick and choose your opponents.
VH: “No. I was that type of fighter. I wanted the best. I would look around and I’d fight whoever was there to fight and give the fans what they want. I know I have a lot of fans over there in the UK (smiles).”
Q: What do you think to the 140 pound fighters of today?
VH: “There are some good fighters there but they need to fight each other. The problem today is, guys just want to keep their undefeated record, and they care more about the money than they do about [taking] the good fights. Guys today, they only fight who they want to fight. There’s a lot of talk these days, but then they overlook each other. They should just fight but they’re not doing that.”
Q: You also fought more often in your day.
VH: “In my time, the fights were easier to make, because the promoters put the fights they wanted together.”
Q: Now that you’re retired, do you have any plans to maybe become a trainer?
VH: “No. My son trains all the time but I’m past that now with boxing. I’ve done all I want to with boxing. It’s a tough game and fighters can get hurt. Look at what happened to me when I lost my world championship. The referee did nothing when I was punched while I was on the ground (in the Maussa fight). Boxing is corrupt, you know what I’m saying? But I’m happy with my life today. I thank the fans for their support.”