Harrison v Williams: A must win with style for Audley

16.11.05 - By James Allan: When Audley Harrison and Danny Williams meet at the ExCel Arena in London on the 10th of December, it shouldn’t be looked upon as a chance for either boxer to catapult themselves into a World title shot, it should be looked upon as a test of whether or not Audley has any real future in the upper echelons of the Heavyweight division.

Danny Williams is, to be fair, a limited fighter, who has risen to prominence on the back of his win over Mike Tyson, a Tyson who was nothing more than a mere shadow of the fighter he used to be. Before this victory Danny had lost to Julius Francis, had been hammered around the ring by Sinan Samil Sam and had lost his British and Commonwealth titles to Michael Sprott. It was on the back of his loss to Sprott that Williams was presented with the match-up with Tyson.

An easy victory for Mike, a decent payday for Danny and a run to another title shot Mike’s handlers must have thought. What Tyson and his handler’s hadn’t counted on was Williams actually getting through the first round. Once Williams had survived that opening three minutes it was only a matter of time before he knocked Tyson out, so completely shot was Mike as a legitimate contender.

Kudos to Danny for surviving that first round, he had to show real heart and a solid jaw to get through, but he was badly exposed in his next fight against Vitali Klitschko in which he was hit by almost every punch in Klitschko’s arsenal on his way to being TKO’d in the eighth round. Pulling out of a fight against Matt Skelton at less than a day’s notice seemed to be heralding his departure from the sport, but the offer of a fight against Harrison has given Danny another opportunity and another reasonable payday. This fight, combined with the purses he picked up from his fights with Tyson and Klitschko, should ensure that Danny has a bit of cash in the bank and it’s probably just as well, as I think Audley will finish Danny’s short spell of competing in the higher pay brackets.

Audley is the most maligned fighter in the Heavyweight division today. His gold medal from the 2000 Olympics, where he cruised through his opposition, should have been his springboard to wealth, fame and glory in the professional ranks. While it has certainly brought him wealth, a reported £2 million contract from the BBC to broadcast his first ten fights, the fame isn’t quite what he had hoped for, as witnessed by his nickname ‘Fraudley’, and the only glory he seems to have achieved is the capturing of the less than worthless WBF World Heavyweight title.

Audley is better known for his painfully slow progress in the pro ranks and the less than impressive calibre of most of his opponents. Julius Francis is an honest fighter, dogged and durable, but really nothing more than a journeyman. He is the only opponent that Audley and Danny have in common, Danny lost on points in their first encounter before winning in the fourth on their return, while Audley won on points. Not too much can be read into these encounters as they were four and three years apart respectively. Recently however, Audley has started to face people who on paper at least, are a step up from his earlier opponents. Robert Wiggins and Robert Davis have fought a few better-known fighters, although they have lost every time that they have stepped up a level. Tomasz Bonin at least came to the ring with an unbeaten record, as did Richel Hersisia. I am not defending Audley’s choice of opponents; anybody who has blown his own trumpet as consistently as Audley has should have been mixing in far better company than this by now.

The main reasons that Audley has not made faster progress are that he has been far too cautious in his choice of opponents and more interested in running and promoting his own businesses and shows than he has been in becoming World Heavyweight champion. Branching out into other interests either within or outside of the sport is fine, provided you have set out to achieve what you say you are going to do. Too many boxers have been left cheated and broke by crooked promoters and managers, that Audley has decided that he will not end up that way, is commendable. However, the chances of that happening to Audley given the massive financial pulling power that he commanded after the Olympics were very small.

Whatever else he may be, Audley is not stupid or reckless and only a very stupid and reckless person would be likely to squander the kind of money that Audley was going to earn. Audley should have focused on what he said his main goal was, becoming champion. After that he could then have moved into other areas of the sport and earned even more money. By doing it before he reached his stated target, he spent more time in a suit dealing with businessmen than he did in the gym and the ring, which is where he should have been.

Frank Warren’s Sports Network are promoting the Williams v Harrison fight. Frank may not be everybody’s favourite person, but he knows how to put on a promotion and this should leave Audley free to get into the best condition possible. A fit and motivated Audley Harrison will be too much for Danny Williams to handle. At times Audley has looked fantastic, he seems to have all the skills necessary to reach the top, a good defence, reasonable power and the ability to pick and throw difficult shots. He was excellent against Hersisia and won comfortably against Wiggins and Davis. In truth, while he may have struggled to finish off some of his earlier opponents, he has never been in any real trouble against anyone he has fought.

Danny Williams has fought in better company than Audley, but has taken a couple of serious beatings for his trouble, especially against Vitali Klitschko, were he was mercilessly hammered before the referee stopped the fight. That beating confirmed two things, one is that Danny has got heart; the other is that he is not in the top tier of fighters. Audley has the ability to be in that top tier, the fight against Williams is the perfect opportunity to showcase his talents. The division is up for grabs and a stylish victory for Audley, not a dreary points win, could put him in the frame for a shot at one of Don King’s champions. If he comes through this fight with reputation enhanced.

Article posted on 16.11.2005

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