BBC dumps Audley

Boxing: Bitter Audley stripped of BBC title
Last fight night as Sydney hero makes a bitter exit
By Alan Hubbard
13 June 2004


Audley Harrison has suffered the first defeat of his professional career - KO'd by the BBC, whose late-night screening of his 17th fight, against the Polish champion Tomasz Bronin next Saturday, will be the last under the exclusive arrangement that has made him a millionaire.

The Olympic super-heavyweight champion has revealed that no new deal has been negotiated and he is now turning his back on Britain, probably to fight only in the United States. He says: "I don't know when I am going to fight again either on television or in this country. So well done to those people who have been campaigning against me. Well done.''

The bitter ending of his glove affair with the BBC must be a massive blow to Harrison's ego. It comes about, he claims, because the Premiership is returning to the Beeb, who will have no room in future for Saturday-night fights. However, I understand that negotiations actually broke down because the BBC had demanded greater quality control of his opponents after the procession of inadequate no-hopers and has-beens who have crossed Harrison's path, albeit that this is the traditional route for a heavyweight hope. They felt they should have more say in whom he fights, and when, after their initial investment of £1m for his exclusive services following his Sydney triumph.

But Harrison insists he must continue to do things his way, and warns that boxing will now draw a blank on BBC screens because it no longer has an ally in Greg Dyke, an erstwhile boxing reporter, following his departure as director general.

So Harrison loses without throwing a punch, but he does throw a wobbly, ranting at the BBC, the media and promoter Frank Warren, who has labelled him "Fraudley'' and rejected Harrison's offer to fight the undefeated British and Commonwealth champion Matt Skelton for the BBC next week. Warren, who has an exclusive contract with Sky, wants this fight - a genuine attraction - to go to purse offers. But Harrison says: "I am not prepared to let him walk in a winner and walk out. This is all about my independence. I said that before I turned pro. I got my promoter's licence and people seemed to have a problem with that. Now they've blocked me out of Britain and off British TV.''

Unfortunately for Harrison, audience figures for his fights have dwindled, and the boys in the backroom holding the purse strings no longer see him through the same rose-tinted specs as those holding the microphones and waving the pom-poms. The cheerleading has finally fallen on deaf ears.

Harrison says he has "fought all the best available crap out there''. Interesting terminology, and that seems to be his problem. Along the way he has collected something called the World Boxing Foundation title, but it is a belt so flimsy it would not hold his trousers up.

Ricky Hatton, the biggest crowd-puller in British boxing, has demanded of Warren that he find him a better class of opponent from now on, something the self-promoted Harrison should have been asking of himself.

Harrison says that he is "disappointed for boxing fans everywhere, sad and disgusted''. He promises to take out his ire at London's Alexandra Palace on Bronin, similarly unbeaten in 26 bouts, mainly against opponents whose names are unknown.

Doubtless Harrison will polish off the Pole, but the danger is that unless he can rekindle public interest in his potential as a genuine world- champion prospect - which I believe he is - he will end up a back number, out of sight and out of mind.

lol, it would have been cool if whoever wrote that could have used the word "bitter" a couple more times

"Harrison says he has "fought all the best available crap out there''."

Fraudley probably doesn't realize just how correct this statement actually is.

I cannot undertsnad why the BBC would drop Harrison. Oh, I've got it now. It's coz he's a boring, egotistical wanker.

Hopefully this turn of events will not delay Audrey's relentless and inevitable march towards world heavyweight domination.

Gator, that's how I read it. The BBC has crap sports coverage and seems to treat the coverage it does have really badly

probably coz it's £

I don't know what to think of Harrison; he certainly has the physique for boxing but I don't know if he has the dedication or talent for it. One thing is for sure; he does not have Lewis's punch. A smaller guy like Byrd can get away with not having a punch, because he is so elusive, but when you can't hit hard, and you're a big, slow moving target, you are going to have a hard time being competitive in heavyweight boxing. If Harrison's chin is anything like Lewis's he can forget about being anything more than a contender, even in today's weak division.

Harrison is not going to be world champ simply because he's not going to KO anyone in the top 5, and he doesn't have the gas to go 12 rounds.

I want to see him beat Skelton then fight a couple of contenders in the US before getting a shot at the Title.

Whether he has what it takes, I'm still not sure

Paying him £1million to not fight anyone from the top 100 in the world is a pretty poor use of taxpayers money

Bonin put up one hell of a fight, and supposedly it was a controversial stoppage. Also, it was even going into the ninth!

TTT for more info

I only caught the highlights, but it was a terrible stoppage. Harrison was getting caught a hell of a lot against a short guy who looked very crude. He was also clearly gassing in the ninth. No way he makes it to world level. He also said after the fight that he's taking a break from boxing.

Having watched the whole fight, Harrison was never in trouble, the fight was close on points but Harrison was always in command.

Points to note, Harrison was in hospital with Hypertension on Thursday over the stress caused by the split with the BBC.

The referee for the fight has been involved in two fights in recent years that ended with a dead fighter, on both occasions he was criticised for not stepping in earlier. Whilst I thought he stepped in early, there was only going to be one winner and Bonin turned his back and ran just before he stepped in.

CockneyBlue - I'll take your word for it regarding Harrison's performance, but I completely disagree about the stoppage. The guy wasn't even hurt, or not to any real extent. Poor stoppage, plain and simple. Just my $0.02

Holy crap, a ref thats been involved in 2 recent fights like that should get a career change, IMO.

Boxing-Central states the stoppage was controversial and that it was a close fight. Anyone else watch it?

Is Harrions defence normally that bad? I only caught the end of the fight, and he wasnt even trying to avoid punches with his gloves by his waist.

U4EA, I don't dispute that the stopage was early, but there is no way this fight was going to end any other way than with the pole axed.

As for Harrison's defence, I think that was an attempt at showboating. The whole macho your punches can't hurt me thing. He has quite a good defence for a big guy though he does have a tendancy to switch on and off

For the guys that watched the fight, how do you see Audley matching up against Wlad Klitschko?

AH - although I didn;t see that fight, I have seen most of the others. Those guys would plain and simply beat him. Even if they weren't most skillful than him, the pressure alone would gas Harrison easily.