Jay Harris: Welsh flyweight is a future world champion, says Eddie Hearn

By Michael PearlmanBBC Sport Wales in Frisco, Texas
WBC flyweight contender Jay Harris says he has proven himself at world level despite defeat

Promoter Eddie Hearn believes Welsh boxer Jay Harris has proved he is a future world champion.

Harris lost on points against Mexican WBC world flyweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez, but defied pre-fight talk that he would be out of his depth.

Despite facing a partisan Hispanic crowd, Harris, 29, was cheered out of the ring in Frisco, Texas after an impressive display.

"I really believe he can be a world champion," said Hearn.

The promoter added: "I'd love to do something with Jay in the future."

Harris was beaten on a unanimous points decision while making a huge step up in class in facing the hard-hitting Martinez, whose relentless style has seen Hearn tip him to become "a top pound-for-pound fighter".

Despite a shaky start in the first round and having to survive two huge body shots in round 10 that forced him to take a knee and an eight count, Harris was always in an absorbing contest, with Martinez taking it 118-109, 116-111 and 115-112 on the judges' cards.

Martinez admitted after the fight that Harris has presented his toughest test to date and Hearn has no doubts the Swansea fighter has hugely enhanced his career by lasting 12 rounds and pushing Martinez hard.

Jay Harris
Jay Harris had not lost in 17 professional fights before facing Martinez

"He was absolutely brilliant," he said.

"Martinez is an absolute beast and he was hitting Jay with shots. He marked up his face and I thought it was going to be all over in three rounds.

"But Jay boxed absolutely sensationally and around halfway I actually had it near enough all-square. I thought one of the score cards (118-109) was disgusting and I thought the one that was 115-112 was about right.

"But I'll tell you what, Jay boxed the best flyweight in the world, someone who is going to be a pound-for-pound great, one of the most fearsome punchers in the game and Jay took all his shots and he should be very proud of himself."

Hearn believes Harris has shown he belongs at boxing's top table.

"He's going to come back and he's going to have a big future," he added.

"He's done more in defeat than in all his wins combined, because he's never boxed at that level before.

"My worry was that he wasn't a world-class fighter, but he proved he absolutely is a world-class fighter."