Audley Harrison (pictured) promised so much at the start of his career
By Clive Bernath: At least three of the four boxers sharing top billing at the ExCel Arena in London's Dockland on Saturday night are literally fighting to save their respective careers.
In the main event troubled WBO featherweight king Scott Harrison makes the 10th defence of his title against the undefeated Nicky Cook while Sydney 2000 Olympic super-heavyweight champion Audley Harrison faces former conqueror Danny Williams.
For the two Harrisons(no relation) and Williams defeat is simply not an option.
Unless you have spent the last year marooned on a desert Island you will know that Scott Harrison is a troubled man. The 29 year-old from Glasgow faces the undefeated Nicky Cook with the worry of not only three separate impending court cases hanging over his head but also having to cope with the mental turmoil of depression and alcoholism. And as if that was not enough to cope with Scott was only three weeks ago locked away in a Spanish prison for five and half weeks.
Certainly not ideal preparation by any stretch of the imagination for a professional sportsman but the fact is Scott has been cleared to fight medically by the British Boxing Board of Control and promoter Frank Warren is contracted to provide him with a title fight.
Only Scott really knows if he is physically and mentally fit to defend his titles after what he has been through over the last year. And maybe fighting is exactly what he needs to keep his mind positively focused. One thing is certain though; anything other than victory against Cook could spell serious problems for his career, but more importantly his own personal state of mind.
The same too can be said of Audley Harrison. The 35 year-old from Wembley has continually talked the talk since turning pro in May 2001 but has thus far not in any way, shape or form walked the walk.
The Audley Harrison story is familiar to all serious boxing fans. The 6ft 5inch Londoner insisted on handling his own career from day one and from day one it has been a complete disaster. Ok he managed to mug both the BBC and Cantor Sport financially but not achieving personal gratification inside the ring has seriously damaged any serious legacy he will want to be remembered by.
To add insult to injury, the man Harrison faces across the ring on Saturday night- Danny Williams- is the same man that completely destroyed the Harrison hype machine last December when scoring a split decision win for the Commonwealth heavyweight title.
On that cold winters night almost a year ago to the day(Dec 10,2005), Harrison, who was also floored for the first time in his career, faced his first real test. But instead of finally producing the goods he has so often promised, froze like a rabbit, stunned by the shining headlights of an oncoming car. Victory for Audley Harrison on Saturday night at least means he keeps his world title aspirations simmering, but defeat will ensure he becomes only the second Olympic heavyweight champion in history to never have won a version of the world heavyweight title, and Audley certainly will not want that sentence included into his legacy.
As for Williams, he tasted defeat against Matt Skelton last time out, the man that was originally scheduled to face Harrison on Saturday until pulling out through injury. Danny has been there, done it and pretty much achieved everything in the sport equal to his ability. He has flattened Mike Tyson and fought for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world. If he beats Audley then maybe promoter Frank Warren can manoeuvre him towards another title but a second successive loss I'm afraid almost certainly means the end of a fine career at the top level.
December 5, 2006