Boxing: Harrison title pursuit starts with Sprott

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The Independent Online

When Audley Harrison salvaged his career before Christmas by dropping and stopping Danny Williams, a deal was done to keep the Sydney Olympic champion in Britain.

On 17 February, Harrison, now 35 but still remarkably fresh, will begin his campaign to win a legitimate world heavyweight title under Frank Warren's guidance when he meets his former sparring partner Michael Sprott over 12 potentially intriguing rounds at the Wembley Arena.

The vicious end to the re-match with Williams was a long overdue reminder to Harrison's dwindling fans that he retains the potential to finally become a serious player in, what is sadly now, the sport's most mediocre division.

A fight with Sprott, which was signed and sealed last month, makes perfect sense and is likely to be the only fight this year where Harrison starts as a clear favourite.

"The plan is back in place - I know exactly where I'm going and I know exactly what I have to do to get there," said Harrison, who now trains and lives in Las Vegas but was born and raised just a mile or so from the Wembley ring.

However, Sprott, 31, is not just a hand-picked opponent and he will enter the ring to defend his European Union heavyweight title, having defeated the previously unbeaten German Rene Dettweiler for the belt last November.

"I know Audley very well. I have known him a long time and we have sparred a lot of rounds together," said Sprott who often works as an office furniture removal man when he is not in full-time training. "He's a good fighter with some excellent moves but I'm a good fighter and this is a great opportunity for me."

Sprott has lost 10 of his 39 fights, including a sudden last-round knockout to Matt Skelton, who is the best heavyweight in Britain and is scheduled to meet the winner, but he also holds a win over Williams, which he achieved following two stoppage defeats.