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Audley Harrison: A No Win Situation for David Haye

By Damien Norman

London’s David Haye defends his WBA World Heavyweight Title against Audley Harrison on Saturday, November 13th at Manchester’s M.E.N. arena, UK.

Haye, who comes in to this fight on the back of a successful title defense against John Ruiz promises to “Brutally” knock out Harrison and embarrass him in the process. This is one of many outrageous claims Haye has made as well as riling a number of activists by claiming the fight will be as ‘one sided as a gang rape’. Although this comment is taking it slightly too far it clearly shows the hatred between the two boxers.

For many this is just another cherry picked opponent for Haye who, upon winning the WBA Heavyweight Title stated he only planned to fight a “few more times” before retiring and this fight is not really capturing the imagination of the masses however if you are from the UK you can’t help but get involved in the hype and be chomping at the bit in anticipation of the 13th November.

There is an awful lot that goes with this fight. When Audley Harrison became the Olympic Gold medalist in 2000 despite the two being good friends Haye was very much considered as an understudy to Harrison. In fact, Harrison, who, when he emerged on the scene made huge claims of becoming the World Champion was considered as the next big thing in Heavyweight Boxing and was tipped for massive things and earned himself a huge contract with the BBC who televised a number of his professional fights. Unfortunately his professional career proved to be nothing like his amateur career and with a number of lackluster performances the BBC pulled the plug on the deal. Harrison, for all of his physical attributes was showing weaknesses as a Professional; he was reluctant to let his hands go and seldom went toe to toe with his opponents. He opted to grab and hold, and flick out his jab in an attempt to win rounds.

Whilst things were downward spiraling for Harrison, Haye was capturing the imagination of many with some excellent performances and the BBC were also covering a large number of his fights. With lots of tribulations in Harrison’s career including relocation to the USA and some poor performances he called out to Haye in a plea of help and asked him to get him on one of his shows but Haye was less than interested.

Harrison seemingly had nowhere to turn, but in 2009, with 4 poor losses on his record and in what was a last ditch attempt to get his career back on track he entered and won the Prizefighter Heavyweight series which in turn landed him a shot at the then vacant European Heavyweight Title against Michael Sprott.

Although in the Prizefighter tournament Harrison was far from magnificent people were interested to see if there were any significant changes in his style and if he really could live up to the promises and claims he regularly made, but what we witnessed was the same old ‘ordinary’ Audley Harrison. Up until the last round he was down by 6 rounds in most peoples view and it wasn’t until the very end of the last round that Harrison finally sprung to life and produced a breathtaking left hook to knock out Sprott and become the Euro Champ; a punch that not only enabled him to box on but eventually landed him this World Heavyweight shot against the Hayemaker.

Haye, who turned professional in 2001 as a Cruiserweight notched up 10 impressive victories before being derailed by a questionable Carl Thompson. He fought on and won all of his 11 fights at Cruiserweight picking up the EBU, WBA and WBC World Cruiserweight titles before moving up to the Heavyweight division in 2008. Many questioned Haye’s chin and felt he would be seriously exposed by the heavier punches but he kick started this chapter by knocking out Monte Barrett in the 5th round. This was Haye’s only taste of life as a Heavyweight and with much controversy surrounding him seemingly dodging both Klitschko brothers including him pulling out of a clash with Wladimir in 2009 with a back injury he eventually faced Nikolay Valuev on November 7th 2009.

The fight went to points and Haye was handed the decision but the feeling amongst most spectators was that he did not do enough to justify the victory and winning the WBA Heavyweight title from Valuev and the general consensus was that he ‘stole’ the belt.

Since that night Haye’s only other fight was against an over the hill John Ruiz. Haye came out the victor by way of a 9th round TKO but the feeling was that Haye had dodged sterner tests by taking on Ruiz.

Despite Haye supposedly calling out both Klitschko brothers and damning both of their previous opponents on September 7th it was confirmed that Audley Harrison would be his next opponent, but has Haye made a huge mistake?

Whichever way you look at it Haye has avoided the Klitschkos and with fellow Englishman Derek Chisora being confirmed as Wladimir’s next opponent this has come as torrid news for Haye. Regardless of the outcome of Chisora-Klitschko, Chisora has already gained mass praise for having the bottle to take on Klitschko so early in his career and people are instantly honoring him where Haye has fell fail.

Haye’s bout with Harrison is under a month before the Chisora Klitschko fight and this could be an awful period for him. Everybody is expecting him to knock out Harrison so if he indeed does this it will be a sense of ‘Well, how could you lose!?’ On the other hand, if Harrison was to land that colossus left hook of his and take out Haye there would simply be nowhere for Haye to turn. Not only had he dodged the best but he would have also lost to a fighter that has failed to deliver on so many occasions, a fighter that has been called “delusional” and “not good enough to be a professional Boxer” by some big names within the sport but also a fighter that is reviled by such a large amount of fans. The Hayemaker could potentially find himself in a position where he has lost his World title, he has lost to an arch enemy but added to that he may also have to face the embarrassment of seeing another Heavyweight Boxer in Derek Chisora take on and defeat an opponent who for so long he has dodged; whichever angle you wish to tilt this David Haye is not in a great position.

With both of these fights on the way it is a massive period for British Boxing and we are set to find out a lot about a couple of top names. Audley Harrison’s demise has been called upon for years and Haye is on a mission to answer those cry’s but Harrison lacks little in the confidence department and for years has been telling us ‘he still believes’ and he ‘will’ become the Heavyweight Champ. You have to hand Harrison some credit, it’s a given that his professional career has been torrid to date but what did he tell the world? That he ‘would’ fight for and become the Heavyweight Champ… So far he has lived up to his promise regardless of how dour his journey has been on the way. Nobody would have believed him prior to the Prizefighter series and although it is at times painful to see him be overwhelmed by his self belief he is on route to achieve his lifetime goal. Note to David “The Hayemaker” Haye: Approach with extreme caution.

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