Danny Williams versus Audley Harrison

18.10.05 – By Neil Goodman: This fight makes so much sense, too much sense, but nonetheless it is on: Brixton Bomber against the A Force. Initially when I saw the names together the penny did not drop; you could call it a moment of disbelief. Then as the reality dawned on me, so did the anticipation that this could be a great fight! Note, I do say ‘could be’ a great fight; at the time of writing the fight is agreed only in principle.

Both British heavies are desperate for a big fight and more importantly exposure, leading to a route into the world title picture. Of course for Williams he has already put himself into contention, blasting Mike Tyson to defeat, only for his world title aspirations to be put firmly into perspective by Vitali Klitschko.

Williams certainly can blow hot and cold; for every Kali Meehan there is a Michael Sprott and for every Mike Tyson there is most definitely a Klitschko. So why does Williams seemingly keep falling apart at the final hurdle? I think that is truly the $1m question, but even after an eleventh hour pull out when scheduled to meet Matt Skelton, Williams finds himself with his back to the wall in the last chance saloon.

The question will undoubtedly be raised again; can Williams handle the pressure? Or, alternatively does Williams perhaps feel Harrison, with just 19 fights under his belt, is swimming out of his depth?

Boxing is a hard sport, no-one disputes that, in this fight though Williams must perform. Having been given another shot at the big time Danny must get his act together, physically and mentally. If he does not (as harsh as it may seem) no-one will care about his victory over Tyson or his one armed KO of Mark Potter!

It seems an awfully long time ago now that Harrison won the Super Heavyweight gold medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. In fact it was over five years ago; funny that!? In this time A Force Audrey has gone 19 fights unbeaten, he has strung together some impressive looking stoppages and showed not an insignificant level of skill. Thereafter though there has not been a great deal to rave about. Harrison talked himself up big time, before even the ink on his professional contract was dry.

By Audley’s own benchmark in truth he has not delivered. It did appear as though Audley had the world at his feet, as should be the case for the Olympic champion. The BBC snapped up the television rights for Audley’s first ten bouts and Harrison himself promised a British title belt in his first five starts.

Whilst Harrison should have been learning his trade, getting into the ring every six weeks, instead his team were arranging promotions and ticket sales; for six round main event bouts?

I think Harrison laid down the blueprint for how not to launch a professional career. Lennox Lewis did it the right way; he fought regularly, facing boxers, movers and punchers, learning his trade in a steady manner on under cards. Lennox bided his time and gradually stepped up the opposition, without the worries of main event status and trying to deliver the big KO finishes the public crave.

Lennox had been a pro a little over a year, he had won 13 bouts and he faced off for the European heavyweight title. In doing so he gained experience and credibility, five months later and Lennox pitted his skills against a world ranked Gary Mason. Prior to the fight against Mason, Lennox entered the ring at even money, but made a mockery of these odds on route to a seventh round TKO victory.

Audley after 5 years is very arguably at a similar stage to that which Lennox achieved after a mere eighteen months. The comparisons between Mason and Williams can also not be dismissed, comparable in terms of experience and punching power. I could be wrong but Team A Force has tried to build and market their charge as a puncher, however Audley the puncher does not convince me as much as Audley the boxer.

Thus far it may seem as though I am bit down on Audley; undeniably though he could and should have done so much more as a professional. Granted there have been promotional ‘issues’ and injures along the way. Sure though this should have heightened the necessity to accept a lower billing and jump at every opportunity going. Could Harrison not have faced Williams 12 months ago?

Credit where credit id due though, finally A Force is stepping up to the plate! The challenge presented by Williams is without doubt a step up in class, an acid test against a name opponent.

Harrison is surely banking on his southpaw boxing skills and movement winning the day come the 10th December. There is little argument from this corner that Harrison can box with skill and authority, his size, hand speed and movement make him an extremely difficult problem for Williams to solve out.

Despite the experience Williams has garnered during his professional career, has he ever faced another boxer who will present the same problems posed by Harrison? Well, I doubt it and perhaps in the most comparable bout, Klitschko with equally unorthodox skills and long range sharp shooting made Danny pay a physically exacting toll.

On the assumption that both boxers make it into the ring on the evening of the 10th December; which boxer will have his hand raised in victory once the dust has settled?

I am not sure I have an answer to this question; an argument can be made for either fighter holding the tools to achieve victory. On the one hand you have the experience, strength and KO power of Williams; whilst on the other Audley has speed, movement and perhaps most importantly confidence. The undefeated fighter is always a dangerous one.

There are several key questions, the answers to which will unfold on fight night. It is answers to these questions which will undoubtedly determine the winner.

Can Audley absorb a true heavyweight punch; remain strong and fight back?

Does Williams possess the requisite moves to get passed the southpaw jab to get his shots on?

Most importantly and this does not just apply to this fight, can Harrison hurt top class heavies and/or compete in the championship rounds?

The nerves and occasion will make for a messy fight in the first three or four rounds. I think Williams can then come on in the middle rounds and at this point the outcome depends on how Harrison reacts. To date Harrison has not really had to deal with pressure, fight at a pace and whilst getting hit. If Harrison can suck it up and keep his skills together then Audley should be able to place his career into the heavyweight jet stream via a late round stoppage or points win.

This is a big fight for British boxing and biggest winner could be Matt Skelton, who is appearing on the same bill. The winner of Harrison versus Williams will be a no-brainer match up for the Bedford bruiser, sometime early in the New Year.

Should Audley Harrison come through the forthcoming battle against Williams and then get passed Skelton, then Britain will justifiably have a new and viable contender to Klitschko’s heavyweight crown. Two very big asks; but arguably the tougher assignment comes on the 10th December.

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Boxing News Danny Williams versus Audley Harrison