Is Audley Harrison destined to be another Lennox Lewis?

14.11.05 - By Troy Ondrizek: As we come onto Audley Harrison’s twentieth career fight and marvel at the fact that Danny Williams is his first opponent of any real boxing pedigree. It has taken Harrison fives years of sporadic feasting on tomato cans to arrive at this point. Harrison won the 2000 Gold medal in the Super heavyweight division. Since then we have been left with more hype and speculation outside the ring surrounding Harrison then any real results from him inside the ring..

I was thinking to myself and wondering how Harrison, who was revered as the next big thing, supposedly to follow in Lennox Lewis’ path, how this former Gold medallist compared and ranked to other Gold medallist in the Heavy and Super Heavyweight divisions that have turned their Olympic Gold into professional careers.

So I decided to do a little research and compared him to a few past Gold medalists. So let’s take a look at how he compares.

First let’s take a look at Audley Harrison: It has taken him fifty-five months to accomplish twenty career fights. Out of the previous nineteen fights, he has fought really no-one of prominence, as previously mentioned. However, he has beaten some high profile nobodies in Julius “The Towering Inferno” Long. Long, a Valuev sized fighter with few boxing skills, best known for losing to Tye Fields and recently to Terry Smith, those were his two televised fights in the states. Harrison also conquered the mighty Tomasz Bonin. Bonin probably the second best heavyweight from Poland (not saying much), really didn’t offer up any kind of challenge to Harrison. Now Harrison’s last opponent, Robert Wiggins, which Harrison had the audacity to claim that he was a good fighter, and a dangerous opponent. Wiggins might be dangerous for someone like Long, but not for the supposed “Second Coming” of British Boxing.

Now for the most dominant force in the division since Larry Holmes and the 1988 Super heavyweight Gold medallist, Lennox Lewis: Lewis took a progressive approach to his climb to twenty. He had already beaten former Heavyweight champ in Mike Weaver, tackled former Gold medallist in Tyrell Biggs, and captured the European Boxing Union (EBU) and British Heavyweight Championship. In Lewis’ twentieth bout he blindsided Derek Williams inside of three rounds to capture the Lonsdale belt outright. Basically that means he added the Commonwealth Title to his EBU and British Titles. Lewis accomplished all of his feats and twenty fights in a total of thirty four months.

Now for the 1984 Heavyweight Gold medallist who is only a footnote in Olympic history, Henry Tillman: Tillman turned pro as a Cruiserweight and fairly quickly moved up the ladder and had racked up a few notable fights. He fought and lost to Bert Cooper who would go onto give Evander Holyfield fits for a world title shot at the heavyweight level. Besides Cooper, Henry Tillman had one more real notable fight within his first twenty attempts. He fought a World Title fight against the great Evander Holyfield. That fight wasn’t even fair. Holyfield knocked him down three times before disposing of him within seven. Tillman climbed into the ring twenty times in a thirty-five month span.

Now for the greatest fighter on this list, the 1964 heavyweight Gold Medallist, Joe Frazier: Frazier quickly turned pro after the Olympics and wasted no time taking on game opponents. By his nineteenth fight he had already beaten Oscar Bonaveda and George Chuvalo, both of whom would go onto and challenge for world titles. In Frazier’s twentieth fight he took on Buster Mathis in a World Championship fight. Frazier TKO’d Mathis in the eleventh round after a closely fought affair. Frazier is the only Gold medalist to accomplish this feat inside his first twenty fights. Frazier also completed this regimen in thirty-one months.

A man that needs no introduction and the 1984 Super heavyweight Gold medalist, Tyrell Biggs: Tyrell Biggs stepped into the ring almost immediately after the 84’ games. His first big victory came against Renaldo Snipes, a former Heavyweight title challenger. Biggs would go onto to lose to a game Gary Mason, whom Lewis beat for the EBU and British Heavyweight crown. He lost to fellow Olympian and the future fist ever WBO Heavyweight Champion in Francesco Damiani. And the marquee fight of Biggs early and total career was an embarrassing but good effort (for him) against Mike Tyson for the Unified Heavyweight crown. Biggs fought valiantly in his first twenty fights and took the longest in doing so, he took a break after his losses to Tyson, Damiani, and Mason consecutively and accomplished the feat in sixty-two months.

Now a current big time player in the division and ready to stake his claim to Champion once again is the 1996 Super heavyweight Gold medalist, Wladimir Klitschko: Wladimir had an amazing amateur background and wasted no time in piling up victories. Wladimir had won the WBC International Heavyweight title in his seventeenth fight and successfully defended it against a very promising Cody Koch, whom we should have heard more from, but his life and career was cut short two months after the fight. And in his twentieth bout Wladimir effectively ended Najee Shaheed’s hope at ever becoming a contender, in a first round Knockout. Wladimir didn’t face the best competition, but he took on some quality opponents, and his first twenty fights went by at a blistering pace of twenty-one months.

In a matter of time we will put the same pressure on the 2004 Super heavyweight Gold medallist as we have on Harrison. So let’s see how he is doing now. Alexander Povetkin: Povetkin turned pro in June of 2005. He has fought four times so far most recently this past Saturday in which he took a 4 round UD. Povetkin is 4-0 (3 Ko’s). He is slated to fight on the Valuev/Ruiz undercard on Dec. 17th. He hasn’t fought anybody of notoriety of yet, but will have five fights under his belt in six months of time. Povetkin is off to a much faster start than Harrison. Maybe we’ll see him soon on the global scene. Time will tell.

Now there is so much pressure put on a former Gold medallist shoulders to become the next great champion. Harrison seems to have the skills, but has taken his sweet time achieving greatness. Time is not on Harrison’s side. So we should expect to see a big step-up in competition for Harrison, and from that we should be able to derive whether or not Audley Harrison is the next Lennox Lewis or Tyrell Biggs.

Article posted on 14.11.2005

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