JAY HARRIS has enjoyed something of a slow-burn career. In six years as a pro, the Swansea man has won all 15 fights (eight early), without ever threatening to become a star. Even after outscoring Thomas Essomba for the Commonwealth belt in February 2017, Harris has mostly marked time since, with four wins over journeymen and a third-round stoppage of Ross Murray in a title defence. Yet things could change on Saturday (June 1) when the 28-year-old Welshman tops an MTK promotion at Vale Sports Arena in Cardiff, contesting the vacant European 112lb crown against Angel Moreno.
The tough Spaniard boxed in the UK as recently as March 23, losing widely on points against WBC king Charlie Edwards. He was dropped by a right cross for a count in round eight, but showed guts and fitness to go the full 36 minutes against the much-improved champion. In terms of skill, Moreno was a level below Edwards, who bamboozled him with constant speed and incessant, accurate punching. But the Madrid man can definitely take a punch: his other defeats in a 19-3-2 (6) record also came on points, against Artem Dalakian (now WBA champ) in 2015 and Thomas Masson in a European title bid the following year.
Moreno’s advanced age (35) for a little man is a bit misleading, because he didn’t turn pro until he was 29. But his wins have mostly been secured against average opposition, with defeats coming every time he has stepped up in class (and every time he’s boxed outside Spain). That pattern should continue on Saturday. A skilful boxer, and excellent body-puncher to boot, Harris can outbox Moreno in enough rounds to become European champion via a clear points victory.
A solid lightweight 10-rounder on this iFL TV/ESPN+ bill sees Blackwood southpaw Craig Evans take on old foe Stephen Ormond of Dublin. They met in Belfast nearly two years ago, when Evans dropped Ormond twice in the last of a 10-rounder that the Welshman won unanimously on cards of 99-89, 97-91 and 96-93. Evans subsequently lost on a ninth-round stoppage to Roman Andreev in Russia in 2018, but outpointed Boy Jones Jnr six months ago, taking his record to 19-2-2 (3). Ormond, at 36 some eight years older than Evans, boasts a 27-5-1 (13) ledger and holds a notable win over Derry Mathews. But in the fight after losing to Evans he was beaten (split decision) by Paul Hyland Jnr, and while he’s won three from three since then he would appear to be on the wane. So the pick is for Evans to repeat his 2017 points victory.
THE VERDICT Harris looks to step out of the shadows at last.