THIS Friday sees a domestic fighter add his name to the pantheon of British boxing road warriors. I would forgive you for not knowing, it has gone completely under the radar. Friday March 16 at the Melbourne pavilion in Australia sees Tewkesbury’s own Adam Harper 8-0 travel across the globe to compete against Pacific IBF champion Michael Zarefa for the coveted vacant Commonwealth title.
Some may remember Harper for his last outing, a swashbuckling win on a Sky Sports Matchroom show against the heavily favoured Ryan Kelly for the Midlands super-welterweight title. Harper and Kelly engaged in a fan friendly toe-to-toe battle which had them on some shortlists for fight of the year. On that occasion Harper’s marauding style saw him a points victor becoming Tewkesbury’s first Midlands champion. The fight, the performance, on that kind of platform is normally the springboard to bigger things and more exposure. This hasn’t been the case for Adam who has been inactive since that win over 10 months ago. He now finds himself on the other side of the world, taking on a local favourite in his back yard. A man that has operated at a higher weight class, a man that has mixed in higher company.
The fight between Harper and Zarefa has come about due to injury to Harper’s original opponent, former Commonwealth champion Anthony Buttigieg. With both guys in full flow in camp an injury to “Butterz” once again looked to postpone the bout (Anthony had pulled out of a previous scheduled contest between the two due to an injury during camp). Adam was then approached with an alternative opponent (Zarefa, who was in camp for a fight and sparring with “Butterz” anyway) and the opportunity for the fight to go ahead for the vacant title. Not one to shy away from the opportunity Harper is intending to take it with both hands.
What is puzzling to me is how a domestic fighter, coming off the back of his most high-profile win, is travelling to the other side of the world to take on an opponent in their back yard for a recognised title and nobody knows. You would be hard pressed to find any articles, videos or interviews on this contest. After speaking to Adam Harper myself, he has let me know this is not a case of him wanting to be isolated or fly under the radar. “To be honest mate, I don’t have a clue why no one wants to cover me. I’ve reached out to various online publications, but no one has bothered to message me back. It seems like if its not a Matchroom or BoxNation show then no one cares,” said Harper during a Facetime call. Is this an indication of where we are at as fans right now? Is he right? We only care if it’s the glitz and lights of the Matchroom or BoxNation cards? I for one will be keeping an eye out for this contest and its result. To me Adam is embodying the spirit of the old school fighter ‘anyone, anywhere, anytime’. As an active boxer I draw inspiration and as a fan I feel admiration, so from all of us hard core supporters: Let’s go champ! Bring that belt home!