Audley Harrison Continues His Slow Climb To The Top

18.08.05 - By Jeff Bastasini: Heavyweight Audley Harrison, 33, continued his slow climb to the top of the heavyweight division on Thursday with a fourth round technical knockout of Robert Wiggins at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. It was the 19th consecutive win without a loss for the 2000 Olympic Gold medalist. Harrison, as usual, fought in a safety first style, mainly using his long right jab to keep the smaller Wiggins (20-5-1, 12 KOís) on the outside in the early rounds. In the fourth round, Harrison knocked Wiggins down with a big straight left hand. The referee gave the 36-year-old Wiggins a standing eight count and then let the fight continue. Harrison immediately resumed his attack, landing flurry of combinations that had Wiggins looking out on his feet. However, he didnít go down and somehow made it to the end of the round. The fight was stopped at the beginning of the fifth round by his trainer.

For some odd reason, Harrison looked anxious throughout the fight, as if he didnít believe he can take a big punch from Wiggins. After every punch Harrison threw, he would peer over at Wiggins, looking hyper alert for the faintest hint of an attack. It struck me as funny, because Wiggins was throwing next to nothing and looked completely terrified the entire bout. Strangely enough, Harrison never seemed to comprehend this, and it took him way to long to take out a fighter that had no business being in there with him in the first place. At the same time, it worried me, as Harrison seems to need a big injection of confidence if he hopes to take his game to the next level.

"Iíll take on all comers because I know I am the best the division has to offer. It wonít be long until I am on sitting on the mountain topĒ, Harrison said.

"I really feel that everything is finally going right for me and that I'm on track to reach the top in 2006," Harrison added.

Harrison hopes to fight twice more later on this year before hopefully challenging for a heavyweight title early next year.

Itís hard for me to believe that itís been over 4 and Ĺ years since Audley first turned professional, as many people would have likely assumed that he would have fought someone of Wigginís caliber 2 years ago. However, Audley suffered a hand injury that delayed his career by one year. Injury aside, Harrison clearly needs to step up the level of his competition in a big hurry because at 33 (soon to be 34), heís not getting any younger. When he turned pro in 2001, I thought he was destined to be a heavyweight contender within 2 years, but his pedestrian pace has seemed off putting for me, as well as many of his British fans, many whom have given up out of frustration at his lack of urgency with his career progress.

Itís not that Harrison doesnít have skills, because he has a lot. For starters, his height (6í5Ē) weight (250 lbs.) and reach (86Ē) are extraordinary for a heavyweight. Add to that, the fact that heís a natural southpaw, which can cause problems for anyone, perhaps even someone in Vitali Klitschkoís class. When he's figting with an urgency, Harrison looks simply awesome, if not unbeatable. His jab is powerful, and if he used it more, he could dominate with it alone. He also has a devastating left uppercut, that looks comparable to the ones Lennox Lewis used to throw in his prime. No, the problem with Harrison, in my opinion, appears to stem from the pace that he has been conducting his career. It has been far too slow, even with the injury excluded. If he can get it together, he could be a threat in the division in very little time. One ray of hope, is that Harrison is now fighting under the guidance of promoter Dan Goosen, who will likely steer him in the right direction. Whether he will succeed once he gets there, is another matter. It's one thing beating a B level fighter like Robert Wiggins, but what will happen when Harrison steps it up to the championship level? We'll soon find out.

Article posted on 19.08.2005

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