Boxing: End is nigh for Audley Harrison after Deontay Wilder lashes out
Heavyweight's chequered career appears over as American prospect stops him in 70 seconds
Sunday 28 April 2013
Surely the journey is over for Audley Harrison, the Eddie the Eagle of boxing who crash-landed yet again at Sheffield's Motorpoint Arena last night when he was bombed out in less than a round by big-hitting Deontay Wilder, the fearsome heavyweight who America hopes is their man to topple the Klitschkos. Really, what did we expect? Here was Harrison setting a personal worst, beaten in 70 seconds, 12 seconds less than it took David Price to overcome him.
The former Olympic champion's 13 years of hurt – for the fans as well as himself – concluded with him being caught by the first punch the 6ft 7in Wilder threw, a stunning right to the head. Harrison crumbled in a corner and was repeatedly belaboured as he sank to one knee. He rose when the count reached nine and protested but referee Terry O'Connor stopped the fight.
"I could have gone on," Harrison claimed afterwards. "He caught me with a good shot but I got up and beat the count. The ref said my legs were all over the place but I wasn't out, I had my senses."
But O'Connor, himself a former heavyweight, had acted prudently for a further battering from this giant from Alabama – who had previously smashed all 27 of his opponents inside four rounds – could have had serious consequences.
Being booed from the ring is not an unfamiliar sound for Harrison. At least this time after taking what was clearly an over-ambitious match he recognised that the end is nigh. "I'm 41 years of age, and I'm not going to kid myself. This is a hard one for me to take. It looks like the end."
Harrison had believed he could finally confound his critics but he and we should have known better. Wilder, known as the Bronze Bomber because of the colour of the Olympic medal he won in Beijing, is a tightly muscled athlete, literally head and shoulders above Harrison.
Harrison complained that he was still being battered while he was down and the on-looking Price, who himself knows what it is like to be knocked cold, said: "I heard the sound of that first punch hitting his head. It was pretty impressive."
Big brother was watching and expressed himself satisfied as Haroon Khan made a successful professional debut on Amir's undercard, outpointing Brett Fidoe over four rounds. The 21-year-old super-flyweight made a nervous start, clearly conscious of the big occasion, but once he settled, his quickfire punching underlined the promising future he has in the paid ranks.
His victory came at the expense of another novice pro, for Fidoe's record showed only three fights, one of which he won. It was a lively contest, Khan emerging a 40-36 points winner taking every round.
"I thought I boxed well but I could have been a bit better," he said. "I found it a lot different from the amateurs and I needed time to settle."
Said his father Shah: "I am relieved he got through that one. This was a tough fight for him after being out of the ring for 18 months."
Another first time pro, the British Olympic middleweight bronze medallist Anthony Ogogo, made a dream debut with a second-round stoppage of journeyman Kieron Gray, a superb right hand sending Gray corkscrewing to the floor.
"That was fun," said Ogogo. Not for Gray though. But the charismatic, talkative Ogogo has the X factor about him, having been signed by the US promoters Golden Boy.
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