Boxing: Harrison reveals the future

Steve Bunce
Wednesday 19 March 2003 01:00
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It has been difficult to understand the thinking behind most of what Audley Harrison has done since winning the gold medal at super-heavyweight in the Sydney Olympics and his latest move is no exception.

Harrison fights for the 10th time on Saturday week against the Serbian boxer Ratko Draskovic at the Wembley Conference Centre, in what is the last of his fights under his existing contract with the BBC. But, in a highly unusual move, he had also announced the man he will meet after Draskovic.

It is not uncommon for any boxer to think so far ahead but it is virtually unheard of for the name of future opponents to be announced – but then again Harrison has not done many things by the book.

According to Harrison's personal assistant and adviser, Colin McMillan, the Olympic champion will meet the Blackpool playboy Matt Ellis – a one-time contender – at a date and venue to be confirmed later.

Ellis once looked like a genuine young heavyweight prospect but he is 29 now and has not fought for over 12 months since he was stopped in five rounds by the light punching Russian Dennis Bakhtov.

However, Ellis has, according to McMillan, been back in training for the Harrison fight and he is scheduled to return to the ring on the undercard on 29 March.

The selection of Ellis is ideal at this moment in Harrison's career because, even though the Blackpool fighter has been inactive for 12 months, he would in theory be on a short list of six or seven British boxers that many of the sport's experts consider a test for the super-heavyweight.

But first Harrison has to win his next fight – and win well – against the previously durable Draskovic, who at 37 is most certainly approaching the twilight of his long career, in order to impress and influence the selection of senior BBC executives who will be ringside.

So far there has been no new BBC contract on the table and it is possible that the once promising Ellis will be used as a tantalising future opponent to persuade the men in casual suits to do a deal.

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