Boxing

David Haye Vs Audley Harrison: Destiny or Harsh Reality Awaits

By Mark Wilson Smith - The date and venue have been set- November 13th at the Manchester MEN, for what is arguably Britain’s biggest heavyweight fight since Frank Bruno Vs Lennox Lewis back in 1993. David Haye will defend his WBA crown against, in some people’s opinion, a less than deserving Audley Harrison. Despite general belief that the outcome is a foregone conclusion, there are a lot of other factors that make this a fascinating contest.

The first area of interest is the personal history between the two fighters. It has been well documented that Haye and Harrison used to be friends before their relationship turned sour.. Harrison firmly believes that it was a one way friendship, with him giving and Haye taking. When both fighters were at the outset of their careers, it was Harrison who had the lucrative BBC television deal. He helped to get Haye on the shows and raise the fighter’s profile. He even used to let Haye sleep over at his house. When Harrison lost the BBC deal and his career took a dip, he looked to Haye, who now had his own TV deal, to return the favour. However, he found the door firmly shut- something he still feels bitter about today. You can clearly see the animosity between the fighters at any media gathering.

The careers of the two fighters have been vastly different. The first difference is obviously that David Haye started his professional career as a cruiserweight, whereas Audley has always campaigned at Heavyweight. The more significant difference between their careers is the amount of success they have had. Apart from his solitary loss to Carl Thompson in 2004, Haye’s career has pretty much always been on the ascendency. His first major title came in 2005 when he defeated Alexander Gurov for the European cruiserweight title. This was followed up in 2007 with a win over Jean-Marc Mormeck which gave him the WBC and WBA world titles. The following year, in another ‘Battle of Britain’, Haye defeated Enzo Maccarinelli to claim the WBO title. When Haye moved up to the Heavyweight division, the success continued- 2009 brought him the WBA title as he out boxed Russian skyscraper Nikolai Valuev.

Harrison, like Haye, turned professional in 2001, but has had a significantly more modest career. Winning Gold at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 gave him a great platform to launch his career. Unfortunately a lot of pressure and expectation was placed upon him from the very beginning. Harrison himself must take some of the blame here, as he was making so many bold, ambitious claims from the offset. Like all boxers, he wanted to learn the ropes against low quality opposition, but with so much hype surrounding him, the public quickly grew impatient. The other real problem was that Audley never really progressed from that level- in terms of opposition or ability. Defeats to Danny Williams, Dominick Guinn, Michael Sprott, and Martin Rogan saw Harrison being written off and his career in freefall. A change in fortune saw him win the Prizefighter tournament in 2009, which set up a shot at the European title, which he duly won by knocking out old adversary Michael Sprott in the last round. It was that victory that put him back on the world map and allowed the fight with David Haye to be made.

The only real similarities between their careers, are that they have both been European champions (Haye’s title being at Cruiserweight) and that they both hold wins over Polish journeyman Tomasz Bonin. It took Audley nine rounds to stop him, while Haye completed the job in less than 3 minutes.

This fight is also interesting when you look at the bigger picture of their respective careers. Haye has long claimed he wants a showdown with the Klitschko brothers, but nothing ever seems to materialise. The Klitschkos themselves claim Haye is running scared and just used their name to gain publicity for himself. Reports in the United Kingdom say a more likely reason for the fights not happening is that the Klitschkos are just demanding too big a share of the spoils. Haye, as a world champion, wants to be treated fairly before he signs any deals. His trainer and manager, Adam Booth, has also claimed there is no rush to fight the Klitschkos. Let them age closer towards 40, let them have a few more battles to add to the wear and tear, and then make the fight happen. Indeed, David doesn’t really need the Klitschko brothers just yet- he can sell a lot of tickets, make plenty of money, and increase his exposure by fighting Audley Harrison. This is also a fight with a lot less risk, so it benefits David in many ways to hold on a little bit longer before doing business with either Wladimir or Vitali Klitschko.

For any Audley Harrison fan out there, or even just for anyone that has followed his career, this is a truly momentous moment. For 10 long years Audley has been telling us he would be the Heavyweight Champion of the World. Now, he finally gets the chance to achieve that dream. Harrison has been told his career is over more times than I care to remember, but big Audley never listened. He kept on plugging away, coming back after every defeat still full of confidence. The one thing I admire most about Audley Harrison is that he has never given up. He has his dream and he has never let any person or any defeat stop him from believing it is still possible. He often spoke about how he would one day face David Haye, that it was his destiny to fight for the heavyweight title- now that day has come.

Although Audley may claim this is his destiny, the omens are not looking good. I don’t think anyone outside of his own team is giving him much of a chance to win this. David Haye’s achievements dwarf those of Harrison’s. Haye has some decent names on his CV such as Mormeck, Fragomeni, Valuev, and Ruiz and he is a multiple world champion. In comparison, there are no real big names on Harrison’s resume- victories over faded versions of Danny Williams and Michael Sprott do little to inspire. Further, if you look at the people that have beaten Audley, you couldn’t really imagine any of them giving Haye much trouble. I expect Haye to end this quickly, but it could last a little longer if Audley tries to hold and frustrate the champion. Harrison only really has a punchers chance. David Haye’s chin is known for being suspect, and if Audley can land the type of shot that stopped Michael Sprott, it would all be over. There is also the chance that Haye could be complacent going into this fight. He really does see this as a no risk contest.

Defeat for Harrison should signal the end of his career- but that has been said before, and defeat for Haye would leave heavyweight boxing in a very bad state- he is seen as the exciting saviour of the division. If everything goes the way that it should, Haye will retain his title and there will once again be talk of a showdown with the Klitschko brothers. Like I said, it’s a fascinating contest.

Article posted on 11.11.2010



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