Boxing: Harrison's next step on road to credibility

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The Independent Online

Audley Harrison will fight for the fifth time this year when he meets Argentina's Lisandro Diaz at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas tonight.

Harrison's last bout was in Miami just three weeks ago and he has planned two more fights before Christmas as part of his assault on the senses of the American boxing public.

The encounter with Diaz this evening will not be screened in America as part of his recently announced deal with ESPN, but the event will be shown in Britain after midnight tomorrow on the BBC.

Harrison is now unbeaten in 12 fights, with eight stoppages, and he is likely to add to both statistics when he meets Diaz, who has won just seven of his 12 fights.

However, there is a certain degree of credibility to Harrison's insistence that he is doing it right and that Britain's other heavyweights have been doing it wrong.

Harrison is a small part of a big weekend for boxing in Las Vegas and as a successful self-publicist he will no doubt make an equal impression out of the ring as well as in it. "The only way to be taken seriously as a heavyweight boxer is to fight in America," he said. "It doesn't make sense to me for British heavyweights to stay in Britain and moan about their situation. I knew I had to get up and go for it.''

Assuming Harrison comes successfully through this evening's fight and his next two, which will be screened live in America, he will return to Britain early next year for a meaningful fight. However, if his fists and his words can convince the Americans that he is a worthy attraction there is the increasing likelihood that he, like Lennox Lewis a decade ago, will become an American-based fighter.

Tomorrow night, the 40-year-old former world heavyweight champion, Evander Holyfield, will return to the ring in a non-title fight in Las Vegas against the cruiserweight champion James Toney.