Jay Harris: “Martinez Fight Announced Me on The Big Stage”
By George Priestman: Stepping up to face Julio Cesar Martinez was seen by many as simply too big a task for the Welsh Flyweight European champion Jay Harris. However, on the 29th of February of this year, he proved himself to be more than a worthy contender.
Jumping up from European champion all the way to the top of the division in America was seen as simply too much too soon. After all, he had only had 17 professional fights. What followed was a fantastic performance and one that surprised pundits, fans, and promoters alike.
A grueling encounter saw incredible exchanges from both fighters, a fight that demonstrated exactly what the lower weight classes are all about. The aggression paid dividends for Martinez, who put down Harris in the 10th but managed to beat the count and battle through. It was a real warrior’s performance, where many would falter and fade on the big occasion, Harris thrived and earned the respect of the Boxing World.
In an interview with FightPost, he spoke about the fight and how it announced the 29-year-old on the big stage. Eddie Hearn was quick to come out and praise the Swansea based fighter; it even included him making the claim he was a future world champion off the back of the performance:
“Yeah it was nice, he came up to me in the ring and shook my hand and said it was such a good performance and was saying so in all the interviews after. It’s nice that he has shown a lot of interest in me now, it’s taken a long time to get to this level now, it’s nice now that he is going to use it for some of his shows, so it’s a win-win for me.”
His journey is well documented, with the fighter working in Amazon warehouses alongside training and fighting. Now he’s been to the very top; he’s hoping to be on more shows in the future. Currently, he’s with MTK, but hopes he can work with Hearn again:
“Yeah, it was quite hard because at the start I was with Frank Warren. Then MTK came, and they’ve been a real godsend really, and MTK work with both Eddie and Frank Warren, so it’s good to have their backing and be on the Eddie Hearn shows, and Frank Warren shows. Now Eddie has seen what I can do, perhaps MTK and Eddie can work something out for a co-promotion or something like that for the future.”
The big occasion is something every boxer wants to be a part of – so it’s no surprise that he wats to be back at world title level in the future. He’s fully focused on winning a world title:
“As I said, I’ve got there now, I want one of the world title belts, and in the next couple of fights, I’ll be looking to push for them and try and get another shot at one.”
Fighting Martinez is a tough ask for many fighters, and Harris earned his respect in the ring after the Mexican said post-fight “Harris is a strong fighter. He took a lot of punches. I respect him.” Having watched the fight over an untold amount of times, Harris learned a lot about himself in the fight:
“I learned quite a bit; I learned that I deserve to be at the top. I also learned that I’m very durable too! I can definitely mix it with the big boys; I deserve to be in big fights. That’s the level I want to be fighting in the near future, definitely.”
As mentioned, he proved many people wrong about the capabilities he has as a fighter at that level. His team and himself had the confidence that he could produce a performance like that against the best in the division:
“I knew I was thereabouts anyway, I know people were writing the fight off after the fight was announced because of what he did to Charlie Edwards, but I knew what I was capable of and I proved a lot of people and pundits wrong which was great and I announced myself on the world stage, so I knew exactly what I was capable of. It was great to prove everyone wrong.”
Another British fighter had faced Martinez, in what is now an infamous fight. Charlie Edwards faced the Mexican in what was deemed a ‘No Contest’ After Martinez had clubbed Edwards with an illegal blow whilst he was down on the canvas. Both are game fighters and under similar promotion teams, but a fight in the future is something that could still happen. However, which weight they will fight at would be a critical factor:
“Well, maybe, but he’s looking to go up to Bantamweight, and I’m happy at this weight. Not to say that, if the money was right, I wouldn’t do it because then I wouldn’t see why not.”
That night at the Ford Center will hopefully be the start of many big fights for Harris. He’s a hungry, determined fighter in and out of the ring, and under the management of MTK Global, the big fights should come his way. Another World Title shot will be the aim; it’s just simply a matter of time.
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