Audley Harrison salvages his Career in Spectacular Fashion - Ringside Boxing Report
By Iain Dolan at ringside, DoghouseBoxing (April 10, 2010) Doghouse Boxing  
2000 Olympic Super-Heavyweight gold medalist Audley Harrison (17st 12 1/4lbs) salvaged his career in spectacular fashion in a truly great sporting moment at Alexandra Palace on Friday night. Surely a mile behind on points, carrying a right hand that he'd not used for several rounds and pleading with the bar tender for a final drink in the last of last chance saloons, he uncorked a left hook that turned everything on its head, captured the European title and avanged his KO loss of 2007.

Over the previous eleven and a half rounds Harrison had been largely outboxed and outpunched by the worthy Michael Sprott (Reading, 16st 9 3/4 lbs) before dropping Sprott for the full count and then some. Harrison opened the first round looking purposeful but after a couple of tentative looking left/right combos caught a right hook from Sprott and reverted to his much maligned, cautious self. He also switched to an orthodox stance which was indicative of the shoulder injury that blighted him for the remainder of the fight.

In the first three of rounds Sprott landed well with uppercuts and hooks, solid but not lethal and kept Audley on the back foot. The crowd, more anti Audley than pro Sprott booed at any lull in the action, which was a bit harsh because there was more leather thrown than you usually see in a heavyweight fight.

The fourth was a slightly scrappy affair, but again Michael did the eye catching work and trapped Harrison in the corner in the fifth also, but was showing slight signs of tiredness as he went after his man.

Over the next couple of rounds, Audley enjoyed some success with left jabs from range as the pace slowed for a while but it became apparent by the eighth that he no longer had the use of his right hand at all. Strangely this brought a new found aggression but surely there was no way he could claw back the deficit?

A big left hook from the Olympian in the ninth reminded Sprott that it was not over yet but fighting off only one hand made it look like an impossible uphill task. Both fighters seemed to mark time a little bit until the final round which was credit to Harrison having no right hand. Inexplicably, Sprott charged out looking to make a statement in the 12th and, roared on by the crowd, went for a finish rather than accepting the points victory. He swarmed all over Audley and the end of Harrisons career seemed mere moments away when one left hook from Audley put Michael flat out on the canvas via the ropes.

Amongst the press, hard bitten journalists swore in disbelief, pens dropped and copy was furiously deleted from lap-tops. It was a truly fantastic sporting moment. No doubt Audley will start to call out Haye and the Klitshckos, and conveniently forget how far behind on points he was against a mid level fighter, but this is sport and this is heavyweight boxing. He deserves his moment, and his European title however brief the reign may be.

Eariler in the evening a comebacking Gavin Rees (Newbridge 9st 10 1/2 lbs) looked good at the lower weight and overcame France's Abdoulaye Soukouna (9st 14lbs) over six threes. Gavin worked up and down with his busy, hook heavy style from the off and even threw in a "Mayweather shoulder roll" or two in the 2nd round as he seemed to be visilbly shaking off the rust. It was a good workout for Rees as Soukouna was certainly a live opponent and fought with plenty of ambition. In the middle rounds Abdoulaye scored with jabs and a couple of left hooks as Gavin was loading up a bit too much. The contest was conducted in a very sporting manner with glove taps from both to appreciate good work or to apologise for something that strayed outside the rules. Rees was always the busier and cleaner of the two and apart from some amusingly poor attempts at showboating from both of them in the final round, the fight continued in a similar vein until the end, Gavin taking a 59-55 verdict.

Well supported local boy Chris Evangelou (10st 4lbs) gave his large following plenty of opportunity to make it to the pub for last orders by stopping Peterborough's Martin Jasutis in just 49 seconds of the opener of a scheduled four. A left hook followed by a right hook dropped Jasuits hard for the full count and sent Chris' supporters home happy once the brief concern for Jasuitis' safety had dissipated.

Elsewhere on the card Danny Hughes of Sunderland (18st 13lbs) drew with Preston's Paul Morris (14st 4lbs) 58-58 and Barnet's Darren Barker (11st 5 1/2lbs) decisioned Frenchman Afif Belgetcham (11st 6lbs) for the Vacant European Middleweight strap and moved to 22-0 at the same time.

A cracking main event where the often ridiculed Audley Harrison may not have answered his criticis, but he at least caused all their jaws to drop for a few moments. He will be on featuring on the KO highlights compilations of 2010 whatever happens later on in the year.

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