Audley Harrison vs. George Arias On Saturday
By Nate Anderson: Heavyweight Audley Harrison (22-3, 17 KOs) continues his comeback against last minute replacement Brazilian George Arias (41-10, 29 KOs) on Saturday night at the M.E.N. Arena, in Manchester, Lancashire. Harrison needs to not only defeat Arias, but also do it in an impressive manner to try and regain his appeal with the British boxing fans, many of whom have long ago grown tired of Harrison after watching him fight mainly third tier fighters at the start of his career, and then fail several times when he finally stepped it up against quality opposition.
With help from promoter Frank Warren, Harrison may be able to still resurrect his career and line up a future title shot if he can keep winning. That, however, is easier said than done for Harrison, who has been terribly inconsistent since 2005, winning three and losing three – not exactly the type of record that gives on hope that he’ll see much improvement in the future. Audley, though, says he is continuing to improve and learn lessons from his past mistakes.
He may not get too many more chances should he mess it up this time. Arias, 34, doesn’t have the skills to compete with a fight in Audley’s class, and it will likely end early with Harrison winning by a stoppage. Once Harrison get’s past Aries into fighters with better boxing skills and power, like Samuel Peter or Vitali Klitschko, is when Harrison may start showing his defensive flaws in his game.
For the 36 year-old Harrison, a former 2000 Olympic Gold medalist at the Sydney games, this will be his second fight since being stopped in the 3rd round by Michael Sprott in February 2007. That fight was a major blow to the once-promising boxing career of Harrison, for it came after revenge win over Danny Williams in December 2006.
After defeating Williams, Harrison had hoped to defeat Sprott to win the vacant BBBofC English heavyweight title, and then move on hopefully into a title shot against one of the heavyweight champions at the time. Sprott, however, ruined things for Harrison by knocking him out with a single left hand. That fight was really debilitating for Harrison, because he had been beaten twice more by Danny Williams and Dominick Guinn in 2005 and 2006. Up until the first fight with Williams, Harrison was 19-0, and considered by many boxing fans to be the best heavyweight in England, if not all of Europe.
At 6’5″ 250 lbs, the southpaw Harrison had the size, boxing skills and power to be considered as almost a can’t miss future heavyweight champion after turning professional in 2001. With a powerful jab, and an equally strong left and right uppercut, Harrison was thought to be the fighter to take over former champion Lennox Lewis’ mantle after he retired in 2003. With a reach of 86 inches, and above average power, Harrison had a lot of strong physical assets that most heavyweights – other than Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko – simply didn’t possess.
However, he’s sometimes not aggressive, fighting passively in a safety-first style of fighting, and looking as if he were fighting at only half speed. It was things like this that infuriated many of his fans, because they felt that he was much better than he was showing in some of his bouts. Nevertheless, Harrison fought well enough to win up until he met up with Guinn and Williams, losing back to back.
Now, Harrison has to try and find his way back to where he once was earlier in his career when he was finding nothing but success, while at the same time trying to fight with more intensity than he did back then. I don’t have high hopes for his success. Though I think he still has his skills intact, but mentally I don’t think he can ever put it all together enough for him to become a factor in the heavyweight division.