Hurtado and HarrisWhen Diobelys Hurtado stepped into the ring to face dangerous contender Vivian Harris, he added an S to his first name (he's now billed as "Diosbelys") and an L to his record. In a surprise upset, Hurtado was knocked silly by the Guyana-born boxer in less than five minutes of what was shaping up to be a tactical boxing match. With the victory, Harris picked up a bogus version of the WBA title and, more importantly, finally solidified his reputation after several years of fighting in near-obscurity.

It wasn't an exciting fight, although a genuine chess match seemed to be developing when the end came. Hurtado and Harris fought a careful opening round, a surprise in itself given the post-weigh-in scuffle that developed only a day prior to their showdown. The tall, lanky, Tommy Hearns-esque Harris kept the normally aggressive Hurtado at a distance by sweeping tight left hook misses across the distance. Hurtado tried to break the stalemate several times by leaping in with his vaunted right hand, only to be answered in kind with a serious right counter from Harris. One of those Harris rights stunned Hurtado, who was forced to circle the ring and look for openings as Harris patiently followed with a tight defense.

Hurtado was only just beginning to make adjustments in the start of the second round when it all came apart. After flicking out a few jabs, none of which landed, Harris attacked with a lead right hand. The punch missed, but an immediate left-hook follow-up tagged Hurtado on the point of the jaw. His arms flew forward in reaction, leaving him open for the Harris right hand that completed the three-punch set. The right drilled Hurtado in the mouth and sent him crumpling into the ropes.

At first, Hurtado seemed shaken but not stirred. He calmly rose to his feet as referee Laurence Cole administered a count. But Hurtado was not okay. His glazed eyes looked around the ring, as if he were unsure of his surroundings. Upon completing the mandatory-eight, Cole asked Hurtado to step forward. While English is not Hurtado's first language, his failure to comply seemed to have little to do with a language barrier as much as it had to do with scrambled brains. After Cole repeated four times for Hurtado to come forward to him, the Cuban defector finally took a step forward. As soon as he did, both his knees turned to rubber. Hurtado dipped his knees, tipped back to catch his balance, and then wobbled forward as Cole waved off the fight. Vivian Harris KO2.

Hurtado vs. HarrisHarris (now 22-1-1/16) dropped to the canvas in a wave of euphoria. For his efforts, he won the WBA super-lightweight title. Forget about the fact that Kostya Tszyu, the king of the 140 lb division, already held that title. Because Tszyu had unified the titles, the WBA declared him a "super-champion" and vacated the mere "world" title. For the WBA, it was a chance to collect extra sanctioning fees. For Vivian Harris, the shiny new belt was a welcome reward for an awesome victory. His rising career had been stalled after a loss to Ray Oliveira in Oliviera's home town and a draw with Ivan Robinson that was really a win (New Jersey's now-abandoned experiment with consensus scoring handed Harris a draw despite the fact that all three judges cards had him a points winner). With his long arms, vicious right hand, and chiseled physique, Harris will make a wonderful challenger for Tszyu, as well as any other 140 lb. contender.

As for Hurtado (now 35-3-1/23), he will be back. He's been down and out before. Knockouts from Pernell Whitaker and Kostya Tszyu didn't end his career, and neither will a flash kayo by Harris. While Hurtado's chin will now be a permanent question mark, his other skills remain intact. He'll still be a serious challenger to names like Mitchell, Phillips, Gatti, Ward, and Judah.

But this was Harris' night to shine, and shine he did. We'll be hearing a lot more from him very soon.

.....Chris Bushnell
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