Haye-Harrison: The Business Side of Boxing

By Ryan Watson: We are just hours away from fight night but the question still hangs in the air, “Why is David Haye fighting Audley Harrison?” Harrison ranked number 14 as a heavyweight had such a promising amateur career, winning the gold medal in the commonwealth games and an Olympic gold. Promoter big fish Frank Warren signed him and Ring Magazine even proclaimed he was the future of the heavyweight division. So then why has ‘A-Force’ fell so miserably short? In a career that was supposed to smell of roses now reeks of failure and yet come Saturday night, Audley will still find himself sharing the ring with the heavyweight champion of the world.

Well the answer by now, to any street smart boxing fan should be obvious. Money. The first rule any pro learns about the fight game is that it doesn’t matter how well you can box, it’s how many tickets you can sell. Everything, in our beloved sport, is structured around money. Hence why pure boxers try to spice up their shows with over the top ring entrances and flashy shorts draped in tassels (Malignaggi springs to mind). And this principle is no more evident than in the Haye - Harrison pantomime.

Audley undeniably does have some talent, as he said himself he has an Olympic gold medal and they don’t give them out. But arguably his greatest talent does not lye in his hands but in his mouth. This silver-tongued tryer has managed to win the public over every time the Audley Harrison express train has been derailed. And once again we hear the chants “Yes I Can” ringing in our ears.

It’s Audley’s refusal to say when he’s beat and unshakable belief that grips the public and forces them to tune in. And when Audley throws around phrases such as he’s the “Prophet” and it’s his “destiny” it’s hard but not be instilled with a little sense of belief. Effectively, people will dig into their pockets and increase PPV figures, along with the 0’s in David and Audley’s bank account. While American fans may not see the fascination with this fight, Britain is in awe as for the first time the British public know both fighters extremely well. Add this to Haye’s usual pre-fight trash talk and Harrison’s deluded sermons and you have all the ingredients for a big money fight.

Unbeknown to the general public, Harrison has no chance of winning. He was planning on retiring just six months ago after the 12 round pummeling he received from taxi driver Martin Rogan. But after a twist of fate he won Prizefighter - a competition that acts as the X Factor of boxing and Harrison catapulted up the rankings. Soon after he challenged for the European title against a game Michael Sprott and took him out in the 12th round. Without even making a European defense, Audley vacated and is now knocking on the door of the Heavyweight crown and will be taking home his multi-million pound cheque to his wife and young daughter.

Audley’s getting his underserved chance and undue payday pretty much sums up all the injustice there is in boxing, but it makes perfect sense. Audley is considered low risk - high reward for Haye. Obliterating ‘A-Force’ will turn David into an even bigger star on the British Island. And although this fight is being sold as the Audley Harrison show, in reality it’s just another stepping stone in the Hayemaker’s journey for the Klitchko’s crown.

Article posted on 13.11.2010

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