By Clive Bernath: Kettering heavyweight Derek McCafferty should provide enough of a test against Olympic super-heavyweight champion Audley Harrison at the Telewest Arena in Newcastle tonight to give a fair indication of just how good Britain’s best known boxer will fare as a professional.
On his much-hyped and eagerly awaited pro debut in May, Harrison blew away hapless American Michael Middleton in less than a round. That was an event; the homecoming of Britain’s first Olympic champion for 32 years.
The fun for Harrison is now over. Tonight in Newcastle, it’s time to get down to business and McCafferty should provide enough of a test to let us know if Harrison has what it takes to go all the way to the world heavyweight title.
Though, the 32-year-old has not fought for 21 months and has lost more than he has won in a 2-3-(1) record, he is better than that. Apart from Gary Williams on his debut, the Scottish born fighter has shared the ring with good class men such as Keith Long, former British champion Michael Holden, Mark Potter and former world amateur champion Georgi Kandelaki.
McCafferty even holds a win over Long, who outpointed former champ Holden in a British title eliminator just over a week ago, so he will certainly not be overawed at the prospect of fighting Harrison.
As for Harrison, rumours are rife around boxing circles that he lacks the ambition after securing very lucrative financial deals, that have already reportedly made him a millionaire after just one round of professional action.
He was, by his own admission, overweight against Middleton, at 18st 8lbs, but weighed in yesterday at a trim 17st 10lbs. The fact that Harrison will enter the ring against McCafferty 12lbs lighter suggests that he has done his work and is taking McCafferty seriously.
Of course, Harrison is favoured to win, but it all depends how he does it. McCafferty is a strong solid performer and will give Harrison problems early as he tries to adjust to the shorter man’s style. But Harrison has the greater natural ability and should be good for either a late stoppage or clear points win over six rounds.
Former two-time WBO heavyweight champion Herbie Hide returns for his second comeback fight when he faces 34-year-old Zambian Joseph Chingangu over eight rounds. Hide has been training better than ever, according to reliable sources, and should take care of the former Commonwealth title challenger within three rounds.