Boxing


Harrison To Fight Skelton - Last Chance For Audley? Any Chance A Good Fight?

02.10.06 - By James Slater: So, Audley Harrison is to step up to the plate once more. In a fight with commonwealth heavyweight champ Matt Skelton, ďA-ForceĒ is giving it what would appear to be a last shot at proving his pro career just might amount to something. Coming off two dreadful performances, to Danny Williams and Dominick Guinn, Harrison is somewhat fortunate to find himself able to be fighting for a title - any title. If he fails to put up in this one, to take place on December 9th, it has got to be over for him. If it isnít already.

As amazing as it sounds, the question remains for the Olympic gold medallist- can he fight? Many people think not. The same accusation has also been levelled at his December opponent, however. While Mattís heart is without question, his skill level has been subject to the odd jibe from the critics. Indeed, if this fight were to have been scheduled some eighteen or so months back, Audley would no doubt have been the definite favourite. But what can we expect now?

Letís face it, the fight could very well be a stinker. It is not very hard to imagine a tentative and negative Harrison objecting to the, shall we say, more physical fighting approach that Skelton enjoys at times. If heís not prepared to get in there and fight hard, fully aware that there is no time for complaining to the referee in his final crack at achieving something good from his disappointment of a career, then Harrison can forget it.

On the other hand, his boxing skill could both bewilder and outclass the somewhat crude champion. With his southpaw stance, quick hands and decent jab, it is possible to picture Audley putting on a smooth, relaxed boxing clinic. After all, should it really shock us if he does box Mattís ears off? With his Olympic pedigree and fine coaching that is exactly what Harrison should do. He possesses the greater speed, better reflexes and the finer overall boxing talent. Why shouldnít he box his way to a clear points verdict? The answer, somewhat off-putting for Audley, may be because he has neither the heart or the stamina to do so. Against the bull-like strength of Skelton, ďA-ForceĒ could be in for a bad night.

But, so could we the fans. It would take a very optimistic fight fan indeed to predict fireworks on the 9th. Audley has not shown much willingness to mix it up with the other guy so far in his boxing life, and itís extremely doubtful that he will be do so now. For despite the fact that his very career will be on the line, I think we will see the same old Audley. When the fight starts he will go into his shell and box cautiously, as is his natural instinct. It is up to Matt then, to make the fight watch able. Very much so. However, if he finds himself in there with a survival minded Harrison he may well have trouble breaking through his defensive posture. In other words, the fight could very well be awful to watch - with Matt winning action-less round after action-less round against a negative opponent.

The match is a strange one for Skelton to take though, in my opinion. What does he have to gain if he does as expected and beats Harrison? Sure, he could earn points by becoming the first man to KO the gold medallist, sending him packing forever. But such a scenario is unlikely. Harrison is as big as Skelton and even in his two losses he never really looked like being taken out. Therefore it will be mighty hard for Matt to get rid of him if he opts to fight in survival mode. No, to me Matt has more to lose than to gain in this fight. As such most of the pressure will rest on his shoulders. Because despite the fact that itís win or bust for Audley, most people expect him to lose anyway. So he just may enter the ring feeling as though his opponent has more to prove than he does. Boxing in the role of underdog could suit Harrison nicely. Skelton though, is expected to go on to bigger and better things. A loss to the southpaw would ruin everything. Definitely a risky fight for Matt then.

But as Iíve said, the bout is a risky investment for the paying punters too. With ticket prices anticipated to be as high as a couple of hundred pounds for a decent seat, it will take a brave man, or a rich man, to part with such cash for a fight that could very well leave them cold. The main event, featuring WBO featherweight title holder Scott Harrison, will add value for money no doubt. But a heavyweight match up tends to become the main feature, even if it is not billed as such. The bottom line is people want to see the big guys fight. Letís just hope they get what they want come December 9th.

Article posted on 03.10.2006



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