Harrison sick note fails to convince rival

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There was an element of mystery surrounding the withdrawal of Audley Harrison from his second professional fight against Derek McCafferty, which was scheduled to take place at the Olympia in Liverpool on 14 July. The fight will now take place on 14 September.

Harrison, 29, has withdrawn with a rib injury but the announcement was made less than 24 hours after an open training and sparring session at his Cornish training facility, during which he did not appear to be suffering from any injury.

However, yesterday afternoon, as rumours circulated surrounding the fight, the boxer's promoter Jeff Harding announced that Harrison had an official sick note for an injured rib and would not be going through with the fight.

According to sources at the BBC, which had planned to screen the fight live at 10.45pm, the other fights on the bill, including Robin Reid's defence of his World Boxing Federation super-middleweight title against South Africa's Soon Botes, will now be shown in a specially edited highlights package at 11.30.

The announcement did little to pacify McAfferty's manager, Kevin Sanders, who queried the reason. He said: "If it's genuine then that is cool but he was sparring and he was training and then suddenly he is sick. I think the truth is that he was simply not prepared for what would have been a hard fight.''

The delay will give Harrison more time to lose the excess weight that he has gained since winning the Olympic title. He said: "Unfortunately when you train this hard this type of injury can happen. I'm hopeful of a speedy recovery.''

The former world heavyweight champion, Lennox Lewis, is likely to accept an offer from the promoter Don King for a rematch with the American Hasim Rahman.

"There has been no decision yet but the recommendation is to accept it," Lewis's manager Frank Maloney said yesterday.