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Is David Haye Losing Credibility: The Audley Harrison Challenge

By Stuart Gracey (Managing Editor’s Note: Stuart Gracey is our newest Feature Writer here at RSR. I, along with the rest of the team, welcome him aboard!)

On November 13th the WBA Heavyweight championship of the world will be on the line when David Haye, 24-1, 22 KO’s, takes on Audley Harrsion, 27-4, 20 KO’s, at the MEN arena in Manchester. The question I have to ask myself though is has this title defense lost credibility for the champ?

I wonder why Haye, one of the most exciting fighters in world boxing and the self proclaimed savior of the heavyweight division, has agreed to take on a fighter who only last year was taking part in the heavyweight prize fighter tournament.

Let’s have a look at the challenger:

Audley Harrison captured the hearts of the British nation in 2000 when he won gold at the Sydney Olympic Games and was awarded an MBE. He signed a £1million deal with the BBC to show his fights and things were looking good for the Olympic champion. After turning pro Harrison was criticized for fighting lesser opponents and was often referred to as “Fraudley” or “Audrey” and in the end the BBC decided not to renew his contract. Then after suffering defeats from the likes of Danny Williams and Belfast taxi driver Martin Rogan, Harrison’s career seemed all but over.

Then in possibly his smartest career move he signed up to be part of the prizefighter tournament: an eight-man, one-night knockout tournament that took place at ExCeL London arena on 2 October 2009.

He went on to win the tournament, by way of second round knock-out against Coleman Barrett. Before that he had knocked out Scott Belshaw and won a unanimous decision over Danny Hughes. Following success in the Prizefighter tournament, it was announced that Harrison would face Albert Sosnowski for the European Boxing Union heavyweight title, with the fight set for 9 April 2010.

However Sosnowski called the bout off for a shot at Vitali Klitschko’s WBC title.

On 9 April 2010, Harrison won the vacant EBU belt against old foe Michael Sprott. He knocked out Sprott in the final round despite being behind on all three judges scorecards. Harrison claimed he sustained a shoulder injury early in the fight and had to carry on single-handed.

Harrison then called out WBA champ David Haye for a fight and because of broken down negotiations between Haye and the Klitschko brothers. Haye has accepted the challenge.

It is still unclear why negotiations broke down between the Haye and the Klitschko camps as both of them remain adamant they were offering a 50/50 split. The only thing we can know for sure is that one of them is lying but without evidence and access to the paperwork we don’t know who it is.

Surely though after these negotiations had broken down Haye should have been looking at facing a top 10 rated heavyweight for his next defense if credibility in the heavyweight division is what he is craving.

Alexander Povetkin, Tomasz Adamek, Ruslan Chagaev are a few names that spring to mind. I’m sure any of these fighters would have jumped at the chance to fight Haye for his heavyweight title, never mind the big pay day that comes hand in hand with it.

These are fighters who Haye should be facing if he wants to prove he is the best heavyweight in the world.

So that question again…why Audley Harrison?

The most obvious answer is that this fight is smart business. This is a great chance for David Haye to make a lot of money with very little risk, but now he has to answer how he can justify such a fight when he announced to the world that he was going to make the heavyweight division exciting again and unify the division.

The champ has put himself in a lose-lose situation now as if he beats Harrison he will have enhanced his reputation little or none and if the challenger lands one of his famous left hooks clean on the questionable chin that David Haye possesses then Hayes career will be in turmoil.

He will have nowhere to turn.

I for one hope that Haye comes through this fight with no difficulty so that the fight with IBO/IBF/WBO Heavyweight Champion Wladimir Klitschko can be made. This is the only fight that can rejuvenate the heavyweight division which is in great despair at the moment.

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