Boxing: Harrison pulls out of Skelton fight
Saturday 07 August 2004
Audley Harrison has pulled out of his planned fight with Matt Skelton, blaming "relentless delays" by the promoter Frank Warren. Harrison was due to face Skelton on 9 October but the Olympic champion will now fight another opponent in the United States on 13 November.
"I am extremely disappointed that I will not be fighting Matt Skelton in October," said Harrison. "Unfortunately the professional disrespect Frank has shown me and my team during this negotiating process and the fact that he has not been prepared to back-up any of his verbal promises hindered the process entirely and I am forced to move on."
Harrison's business manager, Hazel Bruno-Gilbert, said his patience had run out. "When Frank welcomed us as his partner, we thought it would be smooth sailing ahead," she said. "Unfortunately this has not been the case and it is now time to move forward and away from the Matt Skelton fight. We are more disappointed than anyone that we have reached this stage and feel we can no longer wait for Frank to deliver on his verbal promises.
"But it is my obligation to advise [Audley] against a fight when we cannot ensure he is protected by a solid and binding contract, which is something we were not able to obtain. Unfortunately, our co-operation and willingness to agree to Frank's terms was not enough for him to fulfil one of our original, fundamental requests. This was the thorn that stuck in the heart of the deal and broke it."
Harrison added: "I truly believed Frank would offer me an honest deal this time around. Unfortunately this is not the case and now I am glad I kept my options open with 13 November. I will not sacrifice my moral obligations to be an honest and hard-working fighter based on some flimsy verbal promises from Frank Warren."
On Thursday, Warren said: "Throughout my years in boxing I have negotiated with everybody including Don King, Bob Arum and significant boxers, and I must say the most difficult I have encountered is Harrison. If Harrison is to be taken seriously ... then he should take a leaf out of Danny Williams' book.
"Danny went into the lion's den to beat Mike Tyson. Harrison has fallen behind Danny and Skelton, who are the leaders of the British heavyweight ranks. If he is serious about being a respected fighter then he should prove to the British public what he is made of - which until now has been all hot air and wind."
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