'Whatever it takes to win': Jay Harris interview

Ezio Prapotnich
21/05/2019 8:36pm

Photo: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Undefeated Commonwealth flyweight champion Jay Harris talks to Ezio Prapotnich about his upcoming European title fight, his ambitions for world honours and much more...

They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and the old adage has proved true in the case of Commonwealth flyweight champion Jay Harris (15-0, 8 KOs), whose father and trainer Peter held the British Featherweight championship in 1988.

However Jay's career has not unfolded in quite the way one would imagine. Jay found his way on his own. The flyweight division is finally blooming in the UK thanks to Charlie Edwards and this proud, enthusiastic and unbeaten young Welshman might just turn out to be the next best thing as his career moves onwards and upwards with an unexpected European title shot against former EBU challenger and Edwards victim Angel Moreno (19-3-2, 6 KOs) on 1 June on an MTK card at Vale Sports Arena in Cardiff.

BM: Was your father an influence in your choice to get into boxing?
JH: Not at all. A friend of mine used to go to the gym everyday around 5 o’clock. I was curious to see what he was doing so I followed him one day. I went in and paid the pound for registration. When I came home and told my father, he was actually shocked. 'If you want to do it, you have to do it properly,' he said and he is my trainer right now. I had 36 amateur fights picking up five Welsh titles and two Silver medals and a Gold in the British.

BM: So, was it decided from the start that you would turn pro?
JH: Yes. It was set in the beginning to win Welsh and British amateur titles and then turn over. And so I did when I was 21 years old.

BM: So far, you have won the Commonwealth title and the Welsh Boxer of the year 2019 award. Which one is the bigger achievement to you?
JH: No pick. They are both massive achievements. The Commonwealth is my first pro title and you can never forget that. I was a runner-up for the Welsh award last year and didn’t get it. I wasn’t really expecting it so when it happened I was over the moon. I am unbelievably proud of my Welsh roots and to follow in the same line as Joe Calzaghe and Jimmy Wilde.

BM: Is flyweight a good division to be in domestically or was it necessary to step up in level to get opportunities?
JH: It is actually a great domestic division but hasn’t been getting a lot of recognition outside of the hardcore fans as people favour the heavier weights and KOs over speed and skill. I am very happy that Charlie Edwards put it on the map and I feel things are starting to change now.

BM: You were supposed to defend your Commonwealth title in March, instead you are fighting for the European. How did that come about?
JH: Lots of complications with the March date as we had four pull-outs in a week. We were going for an intercontinental belt of some sort when the EBU became vacant and we stepped in. It wasn’t planned but we won the purse bids and now it’s happening.

BM: Does that mean the British title is behind you?
JH: I was a mandatory for the British but Andy Selby had a WBC eliminator and it went out of the window. I am happy to take whatever opportunity comes my way so it might still happen down the line.

BM: Can you describe your style and main assets?
JH: My style? Whatever it takes to win. I can fight and box. I am actually one of the taller flyweights around and use my range effectively but I am also a good body puncher so I tend to favour the inside game.

BM: Is it fair to assess Moreno on his last performance or was he out of his depth? How tough a fight do you expect?
JH: I think Charlie was too good for him but Angel is a game man and his previous EBU loss was controversial. I believe he is hungrier than before and definitely coming to win. I am expecting a very tough fight against the best Moreno ever.

BM: How do you beat him?
JH: Not getting involved too much and out speeding him. Ideally we box at range and the fight goes the distance but if I get the chance to stop him, I will.

BM: Do you feel the pressure of having your performance measured against Edwards’? Or do you want that measure?
JH: I have none of that in mind. All I care about is to become European champion.

BM: What is the next step if you win?
JH: I already answered: whatever comes my way. If it’s a world title shot, I will take it.

BM: Would Edwards be your ideal target?
JH: Anyone who has a belt, as long as the money is good.

BM: Is there anything you want to add?
JH: I would like to thank my manager Gary Lockett, my promoter MTK and IFL TV who will broadcast the fight on Youtube.