Former junior welterweight champion Vivian Harris (29-4-1, 19 KOs) is not impressed with the mental fortitude of his September opponent Victor Ortiz (27-2, 21 KOs).
Harris, who shares the same “Vicious” nickname with Ortiz, views his opponent as an example of a talented fighter who doesn’t have the mental toughness to succeed at the elite level. He cites Ortiz’s #1 ranking with organizations like the WBA as proof that Ortiz has been overrated.
“The kid is ranked #1, but they put him at #1 [and] I don’t think he’s earned it,” Harris said. “If he’s there, I need a win over him to get where I need to go. But he doesn’t believe himself. Other people believe in him and he’s a good fighter, but he doesn’t have the courage. I know that and he knows that. And on September 18 we’re going to see.”
Ortiz’s trainer Danny Garcia understands Harris’ motivation. In his last fight in Mexico, Harris fell victim to a dubious stoppage loss to Lucas Martin Matthysse. For this fight Garcia is taking the approach of nullifying Harris’s strengths as opposed to exploiting his weaknesses.
“We not the type of team to focus on another fighter’s weaknesses…We know Vivian Harris has a lot to come back from after what happened in Mexico, he has something to prove,” Garcia explained yesterday on a conference call. “His weaknesses by the mere fact they’re weaknesses will be exposed. What we’re here to do is conquer his positive attributes, we’re a positive team here…We’re expecting a quality Vivian Harris that day. Train hard Vivian because you’re going to need it.”
Harris doesn’t see the need to feel threatened. He pointed to Ortiz’s last fight, lopsided decision win over Nate Campbell, as another example displaying his opponent’s mental fragility. Harris claims that early in the fight Campbell landed a punch that almost made Ortiz panick and fall apart. When added to Ortiz’s decision to quit against Marcos Maidana after a six round slugfest war last year, Harris concludes you have a fighter who can’t handle adversity.
“I watch all his fights, even his last fight against Nate Campbell,” he detailed. “Campbell hit him while he was on the ropes and the look in his eyes was like ‘oh my god.’ So it’s not just the Maidana fight. This kid has a good following, but in the ring you need more than that. So what happened before can happen [to him] again. I’m a fighter; to be a fighter you have to be ready to die. And I don’t think he has that mental strength. I’m a different fighter than Maidana and Campbell. I’m a sharp shooter.”
Not normally one for trash talk, Victor Ortiz dug in a small jab regarding Harris’ 2009 fight against Noe Bolanos, where he was rendered unconscious by a head butt. Ortiz implied Harris would be going to sleep again, and this time there wouldn’t be any excuses.
“Everyone has their own opinion, but I know what I’m capable of doing,” he stated. “Vivian’s a great fighter and a former world champion for a reason. I’ll see you Saturday September 18. I’ll make sure it’s a not a head butt. We don’t want any more head butts.”
The two fighters will square off on the PPV undercard of Shane Mosley vs. Sergio Mora.
Vivian Harris’ comments are ironic, considering he gained the reputation of a frontrunner after his upset KO loss to Carlos Maussa back in 2005.
At that time, Harris had just publicly confronted Mayweather at a press conference, was trained by Emmanuel Steward, held the WBA 140 pound title, and considered a threat to any of the other fighters in the division, which included Arturo Gatti, Kostya Tszyu and Ricky Hatton.
That bad PPV loss on teh Mayweather-Gatti card forever altered Harris’ career. It would take him two years to earn a title shot in 2007 against Junior Witter, another fight he lost by KO. Now at 32, he’s in the position where he’s the stepping stone opponent instead of the attraction. And Ortiz is the one likely a win or two away from earning a title shot.
On the Mosley-Mora card this fight is the most interesting because both men are entertaining but can be broken. I’m intrigued to see who can hold it together when the pressure is on.
If I had to put money on the table today, I’d go with youth and the more explosive combination of speed and power in Victor Ortiz. Harris’ two legit losses have essentially been one punch KO’s and I believe Ortiz will add another.