By Scott Shaffer
Another world title changed hands in the 140-pound division on Saturday, but the winner and loser were both light years away from the man of the evening, Floyd Mayweather. In the final co-feature from Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall, Carlos Maussa claimed the WBA title by knocking out Vivian Harris in the seventh round with a perfect left to the jaw. Perhaps as stunned as anybody to find himself on the verge of a world title, Maussa ran after Harris and tried to land a punch to the head of the now fully horizontal Harris. Thankfully, the lower ring rope seemed to deflect the punch, saving Maussa's win from controversy and Harris from further injury. Harris was not, however, spared the boxer's ultimate embarrassment of getting knocked out by a hard-hitting but ultimately ordinary fighter. The Guyanese ex-titlist did himself no favors by talking a ton of smack over the last couple of years (especially on this website), and with this surprisingly weak performance, his credibility must now go into full rehabilitation mode. With none of Harris' recent fights televised here in America, it was hard to get a handle on exactly where the WBA junior welterweight titlist stood in his weight class. Most experts saw Harris as a boxer so dangerous that not even his world title made him a risk worth chancing. No less than Manny Steward, arguably the sport's premier trainer, though enough of his future to invest a big signing bonus in Harris' future.
But on Saturday, Harris was exposed by the wild-punching Maussa as a poorly conditioned fighter unable to take advantage of the new champion's obviously porous defense. Maussa, who was destroyed by Miguel Cotto about a year and a half ago and subsequently lost to Arturo Morua, came out aggressively, winging wild punches as soon as the bell rang. "He looked like a novice in the first round," said Ricky Hatton, the true world champion at 140 pounds.
Conventional boxing wisdom says never hook with a hooker, but Harris foolishly elected to trade heavy punch with the Colombian who had sixteen knockouts in eighteen wins coming in. At first, Harris fought Maussa on fairly even terms, and led on two of the three scorecards after three rounds. But as Maussa began to fight with his hands straight down and at times stick his chin out, Harris refused to stick a jab in Maussa's perpetually unguarded face. Instead, he threw hard but single punches and soon tired visibly, displaying a very surprising lack of conditioning for a Steward-trained boxer who had plenty of notice for this bout. Soon, Harris seemed to have little bounce in his legs, and if Harris weren't such a heavy favorite coming in, it would have seemed just a matter of time before Maussa caught up to him. That moment came in the seventh, when according to Compubox, Maussa landed the deciding left hook, punch number 111 compared to Harris' 127. At the time, Maussa was ahead on one scorecard and even on the other two. He now improves to 19-2, while Harris drops to 25-2-1 and has some serious soul searching to do.
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