Inside Lines: Mismatch maybe but Harrison says he'll be a model champ
Sunday 12 September 2010
Should Audley Harrison land his left hook and become the WBA heavyweight champion of the world on 13 November, not only David Haye will be taking it on the chin. Step forward yours truly and a host of cynics who have scorned the so-called A-Force as a spent force and wrote him off years ago.
But what Vitali Klitschko dismisses as "the heavyweight championship of London" (though it actually takes place in Manchester) incredibly sees Harrison in with a chance on the strength of the last-gasp punch which brought him the European title and resurrected the Olympic champion's sunken career at 38. There are a lot of seats to fill (20,000 at the MEN Arena) and pay-per-view packages to sell, hence the stage-managed verbal handbagging in advance of what could be one of the worst mismatches or one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. Sky have high hopes that the curiosity value of Haye v Harrison will attract approaching a million Box Office clients, more than Lewis v Tyson (800,000) but some way short of the 1.2m for Mayweather's dismantling of Hatton. The talk is cheap in every sense, which is why the British Boxing Board of Control will be issuing stern warnings to both mouthy parties to mind their language. Sky have already had to apologise to viewers for four-letter exchanges and Haye, never one to bother about sensitivities when there is money to be made, has upset women's groups by likening the outcome to "gang rape" and talking of "a public execution". Not nice.
You can be sure there will be much dredging-up of old animosities in the coming weeks; Harrison even reckons he has a score to settle because while he mentored a young Haye in their amateur days, the only tip ex-male model Haye gave him was teaching him how to turn on the catwalk when Audley himself had a one-off modelling job in Dublin. The truth is they were bosom buddies once and will be again when the final bell has clanged and they count the takings. That's blow business for you.
Games at fever pitch
Never mind Delhi belly, it's dengue fever the athletes must now be wary of as they settle into the Commonwealth Games village. This is the latest setback to hit the troubled event but it seems unlikely to be the last, although, as always, we can expect that sport will find a way to shine through in the end. "Every day there seems to be a fresh challenge," says Craig Hunter, who is in charge of England's team of 371, the biggest sent to an overseas Games. "They keep throwing curve-balls at us." Lucky it is India and not Pakistan, then, otherwise they might have been no-balls.
No more weighting
There could be no more fitting a finale to the career of one of the great pioneers of women's sport in Britain, weightlifter Michaela Breeze, than to captain Wales when she defends her Commonwealth title in Delhi. Breeze, 31, has been a role model and mentor for the England schoolgirl Zoe Smith,15, who is also challenging for gold. Says Breeze: "This will be the very last time I put the weightlifting bar over my head." Let's hope she has lift-off.
Sport takes another twist
In South Korea, Olympic gold medallist Lee Jung-Su, along with others, has been banned for race-fixing. The sport? Speed skating. Ye gods, is nothing sacred? What will they try to nobble next? The Boat Race, The Open, the Wimbledon finals? How long will it be before the Listed Events are the Twisted Events?
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