By Frank Warren
This week, ahead of his British and Commonwealth heavyweight challenge to David Price at Liverpool’s Echo Arena, Audley Harrison publically declared that for the last 12 years he’s ‘been living a lie’!
Cheers, mate! Over the past decade, the 2000 Sydney Olympic gold medallist has done as much as anybody to jeopardize professional boxing in Britain. Firstly, promoting himself under the ‘A-Force’ banner, he managed to ostracise the BBC from boxing, after negotiating a £1 million, 10 fight deal which lacked any quality control and allowed Harrison to pick ridiculously lame opposition.
Then Big Aud helped put the kibosh on pay-per-view TV promotions in this country following his lamentable ‘no show’ when challenging David Haye for the WBA title in November 2010.
Back-pedalling Harrison landed just one punch – a jab - prior to getting rescued in round three.
After returning from the Olympics a national hero, the self-promoted foghorn single-handedly transformed himself into a figure of ridicule with the British sporting public. He has been dubbed ‘Fraudley’, ‘Audrey’ and ‘A-Farce’. Though blessed with an abundance of natural skill and plenty of poke in his southpaw left cross, not much of his colossal 6ft 6in, 18 stone frame is made up with heart or balls. Time and again, after boldly talking the talk, he has taken flight when the time came to fight!
Danny Williams, Michael Sprott, Martin Rogan and David Haye have all done him. Tonight, David Price should join that club.
Like many in the industry, I was sceptical about Price’s prospects when he entered the profession, following his defeat in the 2008 Beijing Olympic semi-final. Eventual gold medal winner Roberto Cammarelle of Italy dropped and stopped the Liverpudlian in two rounds and Price was widely perceived to lack the mental and physical hardware required to succeed in the ruthless paid code. But I have to concede that I’ve since been impressed with the 6ft 8in, 17 ½ stone Scouser. He is unbeaten in 13 and has wiped out 11 victims long before the final bell.
It has ben said his jaw might not be made of re-enforced concrete but, thus far, he has done a good job of shielding it from harm. At top level, any heavyweight hit clean on the beard will get knocked down – even the great Muhammad Ali was no stranger to the carpet – but the real players bite hard on their gumshields and rise to turn fights back in their favour.
Cammarelle apart, there is sufficient evidence of Price doing exactly that at elite international level in the amateurs.
Technically, ‘Big Pricey’ has a hard jab and a booming right hand that will seriously trouble anyone in the division. On top, he is a clean living and amiable character, the ideal role model for our sport. With the Klitschko brothers approaching the end of their reigns, Price has as good a chance as any to dominate the world heavyweight scene.
I certainly can’t see Harrison troubling him this evening. Audley always has a puncher’s chance – I’ll give him that – but I’m not sure he possesses the devil within to back Price up. Despite talking a bold fight this week, Yet again Harrison has talked the talk, this is his very last chance to give something back to the fans but I believe, if you’re born square, you don’t die round!
Still, there’s always that ‘car crash TV’ intrigue whenever he fights and I’ll certainly be tuning into BoxNation this evening to see the two Olympians collide…Harrison always talks you into it!
Harrison was the pioneer for boxers promoting themselves and subsequently Ricky Hatton, Joe Calzaghe, David Haye and Amir Khan followed his lead.
It’s something I’ve never advocated; not because it cuts out promoters like myself but because they usually haven’t a clue what they’re doing and risk ruining the business for everybody.
This week Khan launched Super Fight Promotions and announced younger brother Haroon, a 2010 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist whilst representing Pakistan, as the company’s first signing.
The brothers made the news this week for apparently fending off half a dozen armed ‘carjackers’ who had designs on Amir’s Range Rover, after attending a gig in Birmingham.
Previously I was asked if I was interested in promoting Haroon but politely declined. He’s a nice kid but has a reputation as a playboy and certainly isn’t blessed with the level of talent his brother has. Still good luck to him.
BoxNation, the only TV channel devoted exclusively to boxing, recently celebrated its first anniversary.
Launched in the middle of the worst recession for decades, it’s been a tough ‘white knuckle ride’ but they have come through it. Previously Sky Sports were the only game in town but, in addition to BoxNation, Channel Five and others have dipped their toes into the sport.
Consequently, fans are now enjoying more boxing on their screens than ever before, with BoxNation delivering more than anyone else. Fact.
Thanks to their partnerships with Golden Boy Promotions in the US and Sauerland Events in Germany and shall continue to expand over the next 12 months bringing the biggest shows and best fighters ‘live’ from around the globe.
For up to date boxing news visit www.boxnation.com