By Jake Donovan
The heavyweight mantra of always being a win away from contention perfectly encapsulates the career of Audley Harrison. However, the latest setback could finally spell the end for the 41-year old fringe contender.
Visiting American heavyweight Deontay Wilder checked his friendship at the door and was all business in blasting out Harrison in just 70 seconds of their supporting bout Saturday evening in Sheffield, England. A wild overhand right was enough to ignite a rally that saw a volley of punches fly from every direction before Wilder forced Harrison to the canvas.
Unlike last year’s knockout loss to David Price, Harrison made a conscious effort to ride out the storm in hopes of eventually boxing his way back into the fight. Referee Terry O’Connor felt otherwise, insisting the Brit was on unsteady legs as he stopped the contest just 1:10 into the opening round.
“I felt jobbed in there. He caught me with a shot, but I beat the count and wanted to continue,” Harrison insisted afterward. “When he caught me with that shot, I went to take a knee. The follow up shot caught me while I was down, but I saw everything and still had my senses about me.”
Harrison’s account of his efforts to protect himself weren’t quite in line with how the fight-ending sequence played out.
The once-great amateur standout – who captured Olympic Gold in the 2000 Sydney Games – was wobbled and out on his feet while trapped in a corner. His inability to touch his knee to the canvas led Wilder to continue with the attack, to where the American literally fell on top of his former sparring partner before the referee intervened.
From there, came a difference of opinion between the fallen fighter and the ring official.
“I wanted to continue. It’s a heavyweight fight, you’re going to take punches in there. I've been put down and out,” Harrison said, specifically referencing his 1st round knockout loss to David Price last year. “This time around, I still had my senses and wanted to continue. I told the referee I could hear the count and wanted to fight.”
Harrison has led a nine-lives type of career similar to that of Zab Judah, whose potentially last chance at title glory comes later this evening against Danny Garcia. Whereas Judah has led an accomplished pro career, Harrison has never come close to living up to his potential coming out of the amateurs.
Now more than a dozen years into his pro career and several knockout losses later, it appears as if his luck has finally run out.
“This one is a hard one to take,” Harrison admits. “I know all of my ducks were in a row and I was ready to go. It took a lot to get back into this position, to get put back like this is disappointing.
“I've got to be realistic. I'm 41 years old and it will be harder to get the opportunities after this. It's looking it could be the end.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox