By Tom Walker | Head of Sport
After ending 2019 with the IBF Inter-Continental Fly Title, following victory against fellow Brit Paddy Barnes, Jay Harris came into the new year ready to fight for a world title.
His opponent came in the form of WBC flyweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez.
Prior to this fight with Harris, the Mexican had shown his pedigree by beating fellow Welsh boxer Andrew Selby in Mexico City last year, as well as displaying a dominant performance against Charlie Edwards at the O2 Arena despite the fight ending as a no-contest because of a low blow.
The Welshman managed to achieve what many others before him had not been able to do and go the full 12 rounds. But unfortunately for Harris, the Mexican won by unanimous decision with the judges scoring the contest 118-109, 116-111 and 115-112 in favour of the champion.
Harris was on the back foot for the majority of the fight, with Martinez’s aggressive style coming to fruition very early on. But the 29-year-old displayed a lot of heart, inculpating everyone in the arena who gave Harris a standing ovation upon leaving the ring.
Following a tough first round, Harris managed to silence the crowd, using his reach and size advantage to withstand the onslaught of Martinez punches.
Martinez’s dominance began to pay off as he managed to open a cut across Harris’ left eye late in the fourth and a quick combination to the Welshman’s body made him have to retreat midway through the fifth.
Martinez really picked up the pace in the seventh, launching a big assault on Harris right from the bell, landing some big, powerful shots to the head, which continued to bleed from the earlier cut.
A left-right combination to the body 30 seconds into the tenth made the Welshman drop to the canvas, but he responded well to see out the round despite the pressure from Martinez.
Harris clearly had the WBC champion’s respect as the two embraced with a hug before the 12th round, but Martinez clearly won the fight, putting on an excellent offensive display despite the gutsy efforts of Harris.
Post-fight, the Mexican named Harris as his toughest opponent to date and promoter Eddie Hearn said “I really believe he can be a world champion”.
“My worry was that he wasn’t a world-class fighter, but he proved he absolutely is a world-class fighter” added Hearn, “He was absolutely brilliant”.
Harris came out of the fight with huge credibility, he’d gone up against one of the best, and proved he could fight at that level.