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My Fight to Fight
By Maurice Harris, Heavyweight
Recently, my promoter told me that their were boxing fans in rec.sport.boxing that were asking about me. Here is what I posted there:
I began my pro boxing career at the age of 16. My mom Jacqulyn died before I was teenager. My father had many difficulties with alcohol and drugs and was not able to care for my siblings and myself, so I was left with the responsibility to support them. As a kid, I had tremendous athletic ability and because I got into many fights, I decided to try boxing.
Some people asked if I wanted to box for money and I said yes because I desperately needed the money to feed my siblings. I didn't know it at the time but these people changed my DOB to make it seem I was 18. I really was only 16 and I wasn't suppose to be fighting. I lost my first pro fight by decision. To be honest, I beat the guy but later I realized that it wasn't in the cards for me to win. After that fight, I won my next 2 fights by Ko.
But because I had to care for my siblings, I hardly ever had time to train. Nevertheless, anytime a fight came up, I quickly took it because we needed the money. In my 4th pro fight I fought Ricky Frazier, you know, the cop that lost to Roy Jones. I was beating him in the fight but by the third round, I had nothing in the tank. Frazier Ko'd me in the 4th.
By the time I was 18, I was fighting Vaughn Bean. Bean's people were looking for a quick win and to be honest, I was giving him a beating before I once again ran out of gas and got Ko'd in the 3rd round. Of my first 13 fights, I lost 6 of them.
I'm not making any excuses, but, I was fighting grown men with hardly any training whatsoever. I was always tired in my fights because rarely did I have any boxing training. To me, boxing was just a way to make quick money, and with my siblings looking for me to put food on the table, I needed the money win or lose.
By the time I was 20, I had already lost 8 fights.When I was told that I had a fight against an olympic silver meadilist, I went to the gym and trained at all sorts of hours to get myself into some type of condition. I trained hard because I didn't want to get myself hurt. I knew that if that happened, my siblings would have to fend for themselves. On March 15, 1996 I fought David Izonritei, now known as David Izon in Atlantic City, NJ. For Izon, this was suppose to be an easy win. Nothing could be further from the truth. I boxed his ears off and won an 8 round unamious decision. Izon and his corner people were in complete shock.
After the Izon fight, I couldn't get any more fights. Then 3 months later, I was offered a fight with Dayton Wheeler on 24 hours notice. I hadn't trained but was in desperate need of money so I took the fight. The judges gave Wheeler the win. I thought that I throughly beat him, but it didn't go my way.
In the summer of 1996, a trainer in Newark James Ali Bashir took an interest in me. He owned a restuarant and I was able to work there and he allowed my siblings and I to eat for free. Having a steady job and a place to eat really helped alot. Mr. Bashir started to work on my skills and I became like a son to him. With each day of training, I gained more and more confidence.
One day, in July of 96 we went to Marcianos gym in Jersey City. The entire Main Events stable of heavyweight fighters were there. My trainer told me to spar with a fighter who was training for a fight with Riddick Bowe, his name was Andrew Golota. Looking on with interest was a fighter named David Tua. Golota and I spared for 4 rounds and I gave him a good spanking. Andrew was bleeding all over. During the 4th round, Lou Duva, Andrews trainer walked in and almost had a heart attack when he saw what I was doing to his fighter. Low started screeming at me telling me what the f*** was I doing and didn't I know that his fighter had a big money fight in a couple of weeks. Lou pulled $20 out of his pocket and told me to go buy some candy. After my sparring session, Andrew, who was never talkative, said the following to me " you're very good, very fast". I knew right then and there that I could one day be a champion. David Tua never spared with me after he saw what I did to Andrew. My trainer asked him many times but he always had a reason to say no.
After this sparing session, another fighter training at Marciano's heard about what happened and decided that it was time to teach me a lesson. One saturday I went to the gym and he was waiting for me. He said to me "why don't we go a couple" meaning why don't we spar. I said ok and before you know it, a war had erupted. I gave this fighter such a going over that when I got outside, he came up to me a pushed me against a parked car. I was so angry that I told him to go back upstairs so I could finish him off. He punked out, his name was Shannon Briggs. In April 97, I was asked to fight a rising star in the division named Sam Hampton. The show was being televised by HBO. Again, I was just an opponent who everyone expected would get knocked off. In convincing fashion I beat Hampton and the fight had to be stopped. The next month, Jimmy Thunder was looking for a tune-up fight before his $800,000 fight with Tim Witherspoon. The fight was televised by TNF. Little did Thunder know what he was getting into. As Steve Albert would say, "Maurice Harris scores a sensational kayo!" I knocked Thunder out on his face and he never got to see the $800,000 against Tim.
After the Thunder fight, TNF asked if I would like to fight Larry Holmes in Madison Square Garden. I said yes, and on July 29, 1997 we fought. Holmes was given the fight by split decision. Harold Lederman from HBO was one of the judges who voted for Holmes. KO magazine called it the worst decision of the year. Had I been given the decision, I and not Shannon Briggs would have fought George Foreman. After the loss to Holmes, I went into a severe depression. I didn't fight again for 10 months.
In recent times, I have a win against Jeremy Williams. I took that fight on a week's notice. My loss to Jefferson was also a fight that I took on short notice and I was not in good condition. In fact, just before Jefferson kayoes, I had him hurt badly. I would never have lost to Jefferson if I had been properly prepared. I've asked his people for a rematch but they say no way.
I also want to let you know that I have been Lennox Lewis' chief sparring partner for the past three years. I handle myself very well with LL and his trainer Manny Stuart has said on ESPN that I am the best young heavyweight fighter today. I also work with Mike Tyson and he believes that I'm the best of the new crop. Sparing with Mike is like preparing to go to war. I have had no difficulties with Mike and think that he and Lennox are the two best heavyweights today.
Recently, people are talking alot about Clifford Ettiene. I want you to know that he has refused to fight me on 3 seperate occasions. HBO has asked him to fight me and he refuses. This past December I fought Harold Schoniers in Pittsburgh. To my surprise I saw Ettiene in the audience with a video camera. After I beat Schoniers, I went into the audience and asked Ettiene why he won't fight me. I told him that I spoke to his trainer Don Turner after the Clay Bey fight about us fighting and Don said no. Cliff said to me f*** Don Turner, I'll fight you. The following Monday HBO got in touch with Ettiene and his camp to make the fight and once again he said no. In fact, HBO is looking at signing Ettiene to a 3 fight deal. He has been given a list of 4 opponents with me being one of the 4. Ettiene has agreed to fight 3 of those opponents but I was the one he won't fight.
Ettiene can't beat me and both he and his people know that. I hope that you knowledgeable RSB fans remember that.
When Michael Grant was making his comeback, HBO wanted him to fight me. Again, his trainer Don Turner refused. These are things that you the fans never hear or read about.
As I write this story, David Tua has been asked by the IBF to defend his USBA Title against me. Tua's promoter Dan Goosen was suppose to give us an answer last Friday. Guess what, they still haven't called. David will never fight me because he remembers about Golota and Briggs. Tua will find a way out, just watch. My management team has also contacted Oleg Maskev for a fight. But he like Ettiene, Grant, and Tua are all scared.
I want you to know that since 1997 when I turned 21, I have only lost 2 fights. One was the loss to Holmes. My record since 1997 is 13-2. Guess what, Tua, Maskev, Grant, Rahman, Golota, and Byrd are in the same boat. All these fighters use the excuse about my record being 18-10 for not fighting me. But I was fighting professionally since I was 16. Since '97 I have fought solid competition and since '97 their records are no better than mine. Although I'm only 24, I have as much experience as they have and these guys are all older than me.
In my last fight, before I fought Schoniers, HBO asked Chris Byrd to fight me. Chris said that he's been in Vegas and caught a bad cold. I would gladly fight Byrd and I will beat him. I respect him because like me he ducks nobody. After Byrd said no, we asked Elicer Castillo ( the guy who was going to fight Grant/Maskaev), his manager Louie DeCuba said no also.
Many of the top trainers know exactly who I am. That's why they won't put their fighters in the ring with me. It's time for HBO to show me on their network because all they have been doing is trying to create a champion while someone like me who can fight is ignored because my management isn't in their click. The politics at the network level is incredible. They don't care so much of showing the best fighters, they care more about what promoters are their friends. You the fans are being deprived of seeing me fight for reasons that have nothing to do with fighting. The networks are really the promoters, they just don't want you to know that. It's a very dirty, filthy business, this sport that I love. Corruption exist at all levels and not just the santioning bodies.
Today, I am ranked No. 15 in the world by the IBF. I have begged HBO to let me fight Ettiene, Maskev, Grant, Jefferson, or Mount Whitaker. There response has been, "Maurice, we love those fights but we can't force them to fight you." I ask, what leverage do Grant, Maskev, Byrd and Jefferson have since there coming off loses? What leverage does Ettiene have when he's trying to make money on your network? These fighters are being protected by their promoters and HBO knows that. But everytime they lose, HBO brings them back because HBO is in bed with their promoters. I lost to Jefferson on a fight I took with a week's notice; yet they still ignore me. I did HBO two favors by fighting Williams and Jefferson on short notice and they quickly forgot. Perhaps if my promoter was Cedric Kushner, that wouldn't be the case. This business is all about who you know not what your ability is in the ring. I've been with the Kushner's and Arum's of the world and I refuse to be their money machine. Promoters don't promote anymore, it's the networks and casinos who do all the work, that's something you the fans probably don't know. The networks will go out of their way to protect fighters of promoters they do business with. That's why I can't get fights with fighters I've named. There promoters don't want me to knock their fighters off, and the networks always oblige. You see, if I beat Maskaev, Grant, Ettiene, Whitaker, or Tua, to name a few, their promoters will lose TV dates. So instead of thes fighters fighting crediable opponents, they fight journeymen in order to keep putting wins on their records. The state of boxing is sad to say the least.
Today, I'm married and have 4 children. Recently, I brought a house with my earnings. I believe that I can beat any of the best fighters today. There is no heavyweight today who has my skills and speed. I will fight any top heavyweight with no questions asked. If I'm given two months to train like they get, they will not beat me.
One of my happiest moments today is that my father has been free from alcohol and drugs for almost 8 years. I love music and during my spare time I write music for some friends I have in the music business. I hope a top fighter is willing to fight me so you can see that the heavyweight division is not as boring as you think. Many people compare my skills to the great Ali, although I could never fill his shoes. But I do have excellent hand speed and beautiful footwork. I'm a heavyweight who fights like a featherweight. By that I mean that I am not the typical plodder that you seen in my division. I'm sure that some of you already know that. My punching power is very deceptive, ask Thunder, Williams, and Jefferson.
In closing, I thank all fans who have shown an interest in my career. I hope you contact me with any questions you may have. I would like to invite you to my next fight. I will tell my management to reserve 1 day so that I can meet my internet fans. If you would like to communicate with me, you can do so by e-mail at email@example.com. I promise that I will answer your mail. Thanks for your support.
Larry Holmes Record
David Izon Record
Andrew Golota Record
Lennox Lewis Record