Steve Bunce on Boxing: I was there at the start for Audley Harrison. I don't want to be there at the end

 

Audley Harrison is due back in Britain from his Los Angeles exile in the next week to start charm campaign number three or four or five in anticipation of his genuine "last chance" fight against Iraqi Ali Adams on 26 May.

Adams is a nice guy and is possibly the best heavyweight from that region, assuming that Hassan "The Iranian Assassin" Chitsaz, who is 54, has finally called it a day and relinquished his Latino heavyweight title.

Chitsaz, like Adams, is a refugee from terror and arrived in his chosen country with a fighting dream. Chitsaz once told me: "I came to American with nothing but my fists and my heart." Adams has told me the same story, only his journey ended in Hammersmith and not the Mexican border.

Harrison, meanwhile, is convinced that he can still make an impact on the British and then the world scene. "If I can't beat Adams then I don't deserve to continue boxing," he said, which is similar to the statement he uttered before losing to the Belfast cabbie Martin Rogan in 2008. There is no denying that Harrison remains a popular figure in Britain, winning millions of new fans during his sortie under the lights on Strictly Come Dancing.

However, his shortcomings now in the ring make each of his recent appearances as a prizefighter depressing viewing for anybody who was a fan; I was a fan and I hate watching fighters trying to find what can never be replaced. Harrison's heyday and the peak of his boxing career was winning the Sydney gold medal 12 years ago. It was a victory against tremendous odds and only achieved after a series of brilliant wins in the ring.

In the following and understandable rush to line his pockets, Big Aud forgot a few basics from the boxing business and his downfall was both spectacular to record and unpleasant to witness. Harrison, you see, really did have the chance to dominate a sport that was searching for a new hero by the time he was maturing as a professional.

Lennox Lewis was gone, Mike Tyson too old, the Klitschko brothers looked vulnerable at the time and Harrison's sweet southpaw pedigree was enough to have his face on the cover of The Ring magazine. He was the future, which seems bizarre to write now but in 2003 it looked like fact.

The Klitschko brothers have matured into the seemingly invincible fighters that they are now but back then they were not considered great boxers. There was also the false hope that a new American heavyweight would be found – that man remains at large – and it was into this abyss that Harrison strolled. The gold medal was still glittering.

"It's not been an easy road to where I am now," said Harrison, who is a much nicer man now than he was during his arrogant pomp. He is, actually, a gentleman now.

Adams is also a nice guy and is understandably treating this fight like a championship contest. He has won 13 of his 17 fights, but is better than the raw stats suggest having been thrown in a few times when he first arrived in Britain.

The Harrison fight with Adams has all the ingredients to make it essential viewing but sadly there are no plans for it to be televised at the moment. Tickets for the fight at the Brentwood International Centre are still available and if – like me – you like being somewhere when something great ends, or begins, it could well be worth the forty quid punt.

I saw a young A. Harrison (Northolt) win the London Novice super-heavyweight title at the Irish Centre in Camden Town 20 years ago. That was the start; a part of me wants to avoid being in Brentwood on the 26th.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Ed Miliband and David Cameron are neck and neck in the polls
election 2015Armando Iannucci: on how British politics is broken
News
i100
Life and Style
Great minds like Einstein don't think alike
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Leeds

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Leeds This i...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power