Just days away from one of boxings biggest farces the PR machine has gone into over drive, trying to draw the last few buys it possibly can before Saturday night. No this isn’t the Manny Pacquiao fight with Antonio Margarito which is also a bit of a farce, this is David Haye v Audley Harrison. The WBA title is on the line and some how Harrison gets the chance to complete one of the most rollercoaster like careers in professional boxing history.
Audley turned professional in 2000 after winning the Olympic gold medal in the super heavyweight division, the first boxer to win a gold in that division for Britain, which meant that Audley had added his name to a list that included men such as Lennox Lewis and Wladamir Klitschko. Although his professional career started with a huge fan fare and a massive TV deal, but his career seemed to stall after a series of fights against poor opponents. Fans that were there for the very promising Audley had started to walk away, sick of early blow outs against a range of career losers. Then Audley himself became a loser, in one of the worst fights ever shown on British TV Audley was defeated by Danny Williams.
For many the loss to Williams said it all, Audley was scared, worried of engaging and arguably chinny having been dropped by Williams. This was followed by Audley losing again, this time to Dominick Guinn, the American that the American public was at the time pushing as their star to be. 2 losses in 2 fights saw Harrisons career in a mess, his momentum stopped dead and time was getting on, Audley was well in his 30’s and seemed to be on the verge a forced retirement from the limelight. Though then Audley started showing signs of a fighter, he scored a nothing win over Andrew Greeley then started out Williams in a rematch. The momentum was back, right? Well not for long as journeyman Michael Sprott would stop Audley in sensational style laying him out cold with one of the greatest KO blows seen in a British ring.
Yet again Audley’s career was on the rocks, many saying retirement was imminent, other questioning him. He had all the physical gifts he could ever ask for, in fact if you were to indenty-bod a fighter in the heavyweight division Audley was the body, though lacked the mental attitude needed to really be a fighter. He seemed scared to open up in case he was caught, often looking like a deer in the proverbial headlights as a result. A couple of nothing wins worked to get some confidence back after the loss to Sprott, though a n unimpressive showing against George Arias seemed to be the final straws for most of his fans. The country had completely turned against him and with a loss to 10 fight novice Martin Rogan just months later that was supposed to be that. Audley was meant to just go away.
Audley however is the ultimate in self belief. 10 months after the loss to Rogan Audley entered the Barry Hearn run “Prizefighter” competition, a one night 8 man straight knock out tournament based on 3 3 minutes rounds live on Sky Sports. Audley managed to defeat Irish big man Scott Belshaw in the opening fight then Danny Hughes in the semi final then Coleman Barrett in the final to walk away with the championship. Some how the media had started to fall in love with him once again.
With Albert Sosnowski handing the European heavyweight title back to the EBU so that he could challenge WBC champion Vitali Klitschko Audley had an opening. Win in a fight for a vacant European title and be on the verge of a world title shot. With Michael Sprott in the opposite corner Audley was a huge betting favourite, though spent much of the fight doing nothing other than getting caught by the fleet footed Sprott. With time ticking away on his career Audley found the inner strength to land the KO blow against the only man in history to have stopped him.
Now with a record of 27-4 (20) Audley is the man given a chance he must take. On the past viewings of Audley however, it’s fair to assume he’ll realise who’s in the other corner, not his old friend Dave but the world champion, and he’ll once again become the deer in the headlights. Although Audley has the talent, and physique to have been a great modern heavy, he’s shown time and time again that he’s flawed to the point of not really being a challenge to anyone who comes to the ring wanting to beat him.
The farce sadly doesn’t end with Audley, but everyone involved in the fight, Sky TV, promotional teams, David Haye and the fans buying into the tripe all need to look at themselves in the mirror.