Boxing: Harrison has to win or face being left in the shadows

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After six years as a professional, Audley Harrison has finally reached the end of the honeymoon period. Tonight's fight against his former sparring partner, Michael Sprott, at the Wembley Arena, is his 24th outing as a pro, but it is the first time that he will have absolutely nowhere to go if he loses.

Harrison, 35, has twice lost in the past, but that was when there was a degree of understandably good faith in his talents. The hope has since evaporated and now the Olympic champion from Sydney knows that he must approach each fight like it will be his last.

There are some in the business who remain convinced that Harrison has achieved everything that he will achieve and that his career is going nowhere slowly. However, it is obvious from the confused and unimpressive state of heavyweight boxing that anybody from a list of 30 fighters has a future and the truth remains that Harrison does possess far more talent than most of his contemporaries.

Against Sprott, Harrison will be going over some of the ground he covered when they shared the ring as sparring partners many years ago. Sprott, an affable and talented heavyweight, has allegedly been served with a gagging order to stop him spilling the beans on their sessions, but, if my memory serves me right, the time they spent together in the ring was far from dynamic.

Tonight Harrison will have to continue the good work he started in December when he ruined Danny Williams in three rounds because a lengthy fight, especially one that drifts into an untidy maul, will most definitely hinder Harrison's progress from this point.

Harrison knows better than anybody involved with tonight's fight just how important a good win is in the grand scheme of things. He has been forced to swallow his enormous pride and work with Frank Warren, who for five years was his main tormentor, and he will want to look good to somehow even up their relationship. Warren remains unconvinced about Harrison and their relationship is truly one of the most bizarre in modern boxing.

Before Harrison and Sprott climb into the ring to fight for the European Union heavyweight title, Amir Khan fights for the 11th time over eight rounds against France's Mohammed Medjadji. Khan's progress from teenager in Athens to smiling fighter has been a pleasure to watch most of the time. Tonight he will win, but he is determined to move this year from being an attraction because of what he did in the last Olympics to being a fighter in his own right as a professional.

Khan will have his eye on the World Boxing Organisation lightweight fight between Luton's Graham Earl and Australia's Michael Katsidis. Khan desperately wants a fight with Earl.

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