EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: MAURICE HARRIS
By Doveed Linder
This Saturday, heavyweight Maurice Harris (25-15-2, 11 KOs) takes on Edmund Gerber (19-0, 13 KOs) in Germany. Harris turned pro in 1992 at the age of 16 and has been in the ring with just about every top heavyweight of his time, either in an actual fight or in sparring. Despite a modest record, Harris has a reputation as a very skillful heavyweight and he holds upset victories over David Izon and Sergei Liakovich. Harrisís last fight was a twelfth round TKO victory over Derric Rossy. Now promoted by Boxing 360, Harris continues to pursue his dream of becoming heavyweight champion. In this interview, Harris discusses his recent fights with Tony Thompson and Derric Rossy, his upcoming fight with Edmund Gerber, plus the Klitschko brothers and his own 2001 fight with Chris Byrd.
DL: Before I ever saw you fight, I heard about you. What I was told is that you are one of the most skilled heavyweights of recent times. What is your assessment of your career thus far and what do you want to accomplish while youíre still in this game?
MH: I started young (as a pro). I didnít go up through the amateur ranks, I started young. I learned on the job. I watched Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson and Roy Jones and I picked up a lot of my skills by watching them. Nothing has changed for me. My goal is still the same and thatís to become the heavyweight champion of the world. Whatever God has planned for me, thatís what it will be. But Iíve never stopped trying.
DL: What are your thoughts on some of your recent fights, particularly Tony Thompson (TKO'd in 3) and Derric Rossy (TKO 12)?
MH: The Thompson fight was supposed to lead to the championship. When I came to fight Derric Rossy, I was on a mission to get back to where I was at. Thatís why I took the fight so close (after the loss to Thompson). It was like a couple of months. I wanted to get right back. It was for my USBA [regional] championship. That wasnít on the line when I fought Thompson. When I fought Derric Rossy, I had to defend it against him. So I was on a seek and destroy mission. I wanted to keep my name out there.
DL: What do you know about Edmond Gerber who you will be fighting Saturday night?
MH: I actually boxed with him before. I went over to Germany (to spar) and boxed with him back in November, so I pretty much know what he brings to the table. Iím just looking forward to that evening. Thatís a step closer for me to get to where I need to be.
DL: If you win, I understand you might be in line to fight one of the Klitschkos. What are your thoughts on what youíve seen from the Klitschkos and the possibility of facing them?
MH: Theyíve been holding it down a long time. Theyíve been very consistent. Thereíre really not too many heavyweights out there that can compete with them. Theyíve beaten everybody, but I would love to get a shot at them. Iíve boxed with them before, so I already know what they bring to the table. Theyíve gotten better (since he sparred them), but Iíve gotten better as well.
DL: Based on your experience inside the ring with the Klitschkos, what do you feel it takes to beat them?
MH: A good boxer, a sharp puncher. Somebody who can box and punch, along with the ability to stay away from them. Theyíre very strong, theyíre very strongÖ Back in í05, I worked with Wladimir for (his fight with) DaVarryl Williamson and in the same year, I worked with Vitali for (his fight with) Danny Williams. Thatís the last time I worked with them.
DL: Former heavyweight champion Chris Byrd once told me that of all of his fights, he is most proud of his fight with you (which took place in 2001). He said that you two were the most avoided in the division and that he respects your skills.
MH: It was a tough fight for the both of us. He edged me out, because I over-trained for that. We were originally scheduled for April and then they pushed it back to May, so I went right back into the gym. I was already in top condition and I put more wear and tear on my body. By the fifth round, I was finished, but I just pushed myself through. My heart wouldnít let me quit. He edged me out (on points). Heís a real nice guy, a real classy guy. I like Chris Byrd.
DL: Anything in closing?
MH: Iím just looking forward to a great evening. Itís too bad yíall wonít be able to see it unless youíre streaming. But Iím just looking forward to keeping my career going until I canít do it anymore. I set a goal for myself. I donít plan on doing this for too much longer. Why keep putting all that wear and tear on your body for nothing? Wherever the cards fall, thatís where they fall. But itís going to be a good ride, Iíll tell you that.