Boxing


"Prizefighter" Tourney Surely Very Last Chance For Audley Harrison

by James Slater - It could be argued that time has already ran out on Audley Harrison, the once heavily hyped Olympic gold medallist. The disappointments of the man known as "A-Force" are well known, and at the age of 37 (38 in October) there are surely only a limited number of months left in which the big southpaw will be able to fight at anything approaching top level. But say what you want about Harrison, he keeps receiving opportunities to give his career one last kick-start. Audley simply refuses to go away..

Fan interest first began to wane as long ago as 2004, when Harrison was either fighting limited opposition or was struggling to provide enough action. Then, in late 2005/early 2006, back-to-back losses to Danny Williams and Dominick Guinn forced a number of people to turn their back on the gold medallist. Given another chance, Harrison at last showed good form in December of 2006. In a return with Williams, big Audley crushed his man inside 3 rounds.

The good form didn't last long, however. In his very next fight, against Michael Sprott, Harrison was knocked flat in highlight reel fashion in the 3rd round. Now it was surely all over for the heavyweight the fans loved to hate. But no, Harrison was given yet another shot at doing something. Fighting on under-cards, Audley managed to get himself a couple of wins, both of which drew deafening boos from the paying crowd. Then, in his last fight, back in December of 2008, Harrison lost for the fourth time as he was out-pointed by Martin Rogan in a decent action fight. Then, silence. Until now.

Back for what surely will be his very last chance to revive what to many is a dead career, the soon-to-be 38-year-old will participate in the latest series of the Barry Hearn-promoted "Prizefighter" series. If he can win this, Harrison, might, just might, win himself back a fan or two, as well as another opportunity to go for a British or perhaps even a European title. But is it a big ask of the 23-4(17) lefty to win on October 2nd in London?

Audley will be up against old foes Williams and Sprott for one thing, and there would be no shortage of experts willing to say he will lose to both guys for a second time. Then there are the two young and undefeated guys taking part in the tourney - guys who will be hungry and determined in their first shot at the big time. Has Harrison enough hunger to see off such opposition? Did Audley ever have the hunger needed to succeed?

Harrison is already talking a great deal about how the October tourney will be his ticket back. Win or lose, Harrison will not be permitted to box negatively in any of the bouts he gets through at York Hall, Bethnal Green. That's the beauty of "Prizefighter," the fights are short and sweet (3 rounds each) and both guys have to fight hard and are made to fight hard and do fight hard. There has never been a dull edition of the tournament, and there's no real reason to think this will change in October.

And this is where it gets interesting for Harrison. When he's been forced to fight, when he's not been given the time to waste rounds and fight cautiously while biding his time, Audley has done well. When he's been forced to fight on instinct, Harrison, the Sprott KO aside, has brought out power and skill and showed us what he can do. With all the opponents he will face in October sure to jump right on him at the bell, maybe Harrison will have the decent fighter that is inside him come out once more.

Harrison always could punch. He has the size and the speed to hit with power, it's just that when allowed to he would opt to take the safety first approach. In October he will not be given this option. In short, it will be KO or be KO'd for Audley in the tourney that may even bring out the best in him.

Call me crazy if you want, but I see Harrison winning the thing!

Article posted on 18.08.2009



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