Will Audley Harrison Produce In 2005?

22.12.04 - By Steve Mckenna: THERE'S no point dressing it up Audley Harrison has had a pretty woeful 2004. After three fights, in March, May and June, A-Force has turned into A-nonymous. He hadn't exactly made an earth-shattering impact since turning professional, but in the first half of the year he at least looked like breaking into the world's top-20. Now apart from a brief appearance on the TV show 'Boxing Academy' he's almost disappeared off the radar. Niggling injuries, and the fact that he's lost the backing of the BBC, haven't helped. But for someone who became Olympic super-heavyweight champion nearly four and a half years ago, his development is disappointing to say the least. Audley (17-0) is now 33..

Sure, big guys usually last longer than the little fellas, but his progress is akin to that of a snail climbing up a steep hill. The rate he's going, he won't have challenged for a world title by the time he's 40. And please don't anyone say he's already won one the WBF doesn't count. Perhaps I'm being a bit harsh.

After all, Audley couldn't help tearing tendons and ligaments in his left hand. And three fights in the first six months of 2004 was pretty good going. He may well have been on the way to fulfilling his potential, but he's never struck me as being a seriously hungry fighter.

Harrison is undoubtedly a talented individual. He has the size and skills to pay the bills as he often says so himself. He's not exactly a devastating hitter, in the mould of his compatriot Lennox Lewis, but he's a sharp counter-puncher, who can box beautifully at times. But there are still question marks over his stamina, chin and desire and he has yet to tackle anyone remotely threatening. His stubbornness outside the ring and insistence of total control over his career have also held him back. And this is a pity because the real dearth of quality in boxing's traditional glamour division should encourage Harrison to put his foot on the pedal.

Does anyone seriously think he's not gifted enough to share a ring with belt holders John Ruiz, Lamon Brewster and Chris Byrd? Or contenders Joe Mesi, Andrew Golota, Jameel McCline and Wladimir Klitschko? With the benefit of hindsight, Harrison would be more of a match for Vitali Klitschko than Danny Williams ever was. Watching a crouched Williams desperately trying to get inside the giant WBC champion, one couldn't help but think that, with his huge frame, Audley would have given him a tougher fight. Talk of domestic battles with Williams, Herbie Hide and Matt Skelton have been just that talk. Williams v Harrison would still be an attractive fight, but Hide has gone off the rails again, while Skelton has displayed little other than raw guts and fighting spirit in his short career. Again, it's a fight British boxing fans wouldn't mind seeing, but one feels that he, and his promoter Frank Warren, needs Audley more than Audley needs him.

If he wants to, Harrison has the ability to become a major player in boxing in 2005. Despite his lacklustre strides in the paid ranks so far, having the 2000 Sydney gold medal still gives him great leverage in the business. But he does he really have the desire to become heavyweight champion of the world?

Article posted on 23.12.2004

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