30.04.04 – Citing illness, Russian heavyweight Nicolay Popov (12-0, 6KOs) has pulled out of the May 8 fight against Olympic heavyweight gold medallist Audley Harrison (15-0, 11KOs) at the Whitchurch Sports Centre in Bristol. Instead, Harrison will now face countryman and former British Heavyweight Champion Julius Francis (23-16-1, 12KOs) for the scheduled bout which will air live at 10:30pm on BBC2.
Harrison’s promotional company, A-Force Promotions, received a letter of notification from Sergey Mitchnik, Popov’s representative, who was notified by Popov’s trainer, German Titov, that his fighter had fallen ill and would be unable to properly finish his training schedule for the bout. “After such difficulties finding someone who was willing to take the fight, it is extremely disappointing that Popov pulled out at the last hour,” said Hazel Bruno-Gilbert, Business Manager, A-Force Promotions. “Fortunately, Julius, who was training for a scheduled fight this weekend on the Ampro card in Kent, will now face Audley on May 8.”
Harrison and Francis fought once before as amateurs in the national London regional ABA finals. Harrison was young and inexperienced compared to the heavily favored Francis, but still gave Francis a tough test in a close fought match that claimed Francis the winner on points. “It was a great learning experience for me but still a loss on my record,” said Harrison. “Now I look forward to redeeming the loss and continuing to move forward to my ultimate goal of heavyweight champion.”
The fight should prove to be an interesting match-up between the two combatants. “Julius Francis is a durable, tough veteran who has far more professional experience than Audley and will use it to his advantage next Saturday night,” said Bruno-Gilbert. “With the history between them and Audley’s reputation rising rapidly, I am sure Julius would like nothing more than to be the first one to beat him and knock him off his course.”
Battle At Bristol is set for Saturday, May 8. The undercard of this exciting night will feature WBF Super Featherweight Champion Carl Johanneson, middleweight Scott Dann, and local favourites Leigh Allis, Michael Graydon or Lee Haskins among others as part of a nine-bout fight night. Tickets are priced at £75, £60, £50, £40 and £30 on sale now at The Whitchurch Sports Centre (01275833911, 01179496699) and www.audleyharrison.com.