Oh boy. Here we go again.
As reported in the last couple of weeks, Audley Harrison will fight over 12 rounds again. It will be underneath Amir Khan v Julio Diaz on April 27 in Sheffield. And once again, there’s talk of ‘A-Force’ challenging for a world title if he wins.
Erm, yeah. Right.
That’s before you even consider his now-confirmed opponent: Deontay Wilder of the US.
Wilder, known as ‘The Bronze Bomber’, stands six feet seven and looks like a million dollars. At 27, he is 14 years the junior of 41-year-old Harrison. He is undefeated in all 27 professional fights so far.
Even more alarming for Harrison is that Wilder has knocked out ALL 27 of them. And of the last 14, only one (Marlon Hayes) saw round four. And he only just staggered into the fourth.
The Englishman by now should be extremely scared of the number 27. But if he is, he's not showing it, as evidenced by his words at the press conference confirming the bout:
"Lose and it's over,” he said. “Win and I'm in the top 10, eligible to challenge for the world title.
“Biggest risk for the biggest reward. It can't get any better than that."
Even the most anti-Audley boxing fans have to admire that mindset. But we know how this will end.
And speaking of ends, those words were also the biggest hint at retirement from Harrison yet. This near-certain butchering may well be his final big pay day.
Love him or hate him, the man is right to milk the reactions he garners from media and punters.
Ever since his gold at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, he has been deified by opportunistic promoters and tabloids, and as a result vilified by fans sick of having the Londoner’s professional journey shoved down their throats.
The embarrassing KOs at the fists of David Price, David Haye and Michael Sprott proved that Harrison is just not good enough as a pro. All of those three men have fallen short at an international level (and no, Haye's sideshow world title win over Nikolai Valuev does not ‘disprove’ that statement), and yet they all dropped Audley with ease.
And yet, the way in which most people take pleasure in his downfall is a little disturbing. James Garner summed it up perfectly when he described him as ‘the man who helped inspire a generation’.
Had Harrison won gold last year in London along with all the other Olympic heroes, it’s likely public opinion of him would be a lot different – even whilst failing to cut it as a pro.
But alas, a national hero became an enemy for having the audacity to be over-hyped by others and for engaging in the same cocky verbiage that most boxers do.
Harrison finds himself in this high-level position against Wilder because, despite being stopped in just 82 seconds last October, he opted against hanging up the gloves and returned to the Prizefighter scene where he’d already won once before in 2009.
Once again, the three-round tournament concept helped ‘A-Force’ return to winning ways and once again, enabled eager promoters to fast-track him into another marquee fight.
They do this over more worthy contenders because of his name value. People want to see Audley fail. They cannot click on articles about him fast enough to comment on how terrible he is. He's not the first sportsman to profit from 'the circus effect' and will not be the last.
Between the media and the boxing fan community, Harrison has been made into a celebrity and as such, receives exceptional treatment. And I say this as a part of both. Neither side can pass full responsibility to the other.
Thankfully, come April 27, this whole charade can be put to bed after 13 years. If, as expected, Wilder destroys Harrison and sends him into retirement, the first-ever two-time Prizefighter winner can finally enjoy peace and quiet. And hopefully, so can we.
Liam Happe | Follow on Twitter
Mike Alvarado tied the score at 1-1 with Brandon Rios in yet another blistering encounter. Their first bout was Eurosport-Yahoo!’s 2012 fight of the year and so far, the 2013 running is between their rematch and Bradley-Provodnikov.
Gennady Golovkin continued to tear through the middleweight division, while Tony Bellew couldn’t find that touch of of quality to win his eventual draw with Isaac Chilemba and earn another light-heavy world title crack.
It’s a big fight weekend in Asia as China’s Olympic gold medallist Zou Shiming makes his pro debut against Eleazar Valenzuela over four rounds on a Macau card which also features Roman Martinez and Brian Viloria defending their respective world titles.
Meanwhile Sunday and Monday see the first Japanese supershows since the annual New Year’s fight festivals: Koki Kameda vs. Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym for the former’s WBA bantamweight strap headlines in Osaka a day before three world titles are defended on a loaded Tokyo card featuring Shinsuke Yamanaka, Toshiyuki Igarashi and Gamaliel Diaz.
Results and reports can be found on the Yahoo!-Eurosport website over the weekend.