In an exclusive interview with BettingSites.co.uk, former professional boxer and Olympic gold medalist Audley Harrison reflects on his career and how he would fare against current heavyweights.
Harrison also offers his prediction for fights within the heavyweight division.
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Highlights from the interview:
- Prime Harrison would go through any heavyweight today
- Wilder would beat Joshua
- Joshua lost the fire & spirit
- Wilder should fight Parker or Whyte, if Joshua doesn’t happen
- I could’ve beaten Wladimir Klitschko
- Chris Eubank Sr helped me get back to ‘prime Harrison’
- Fury needs to be professional & fight Parker if he has to
Question: Looking back on your career, a prime Audley Harrison, how do you see yourself fairing amongst the current heavyweight landscape?
Audley Harrison: “So even though you saw me coming back it was never the same, but a prime Audley Harrison, I would have gone through anybody. It would have gone through anybody because I was there. I was licking my lips at the opportunity of fighting Wladimir Klitschko. That was my goal because I looked at his style. He lost to Corrie Sanders early on in the fight and he was a southpaw, a South African southpaw. I was like, oh my God, he’s going to be so perfect for me in 2006 – it was all geared for me. But my thing was I wanted to do it on my own. A-Force promotions under my banner. And that’s why it capitulated. But the stuff that I was doing, looking at me now, this is why I get very frustrated looking at the fights now, because of my tutelage training. I had Thell Torrence with me. Thell Torrence and Eddie Futch were together 40 years, and their tutelage was another 100 years. So it’s like the history of boxing, the science of boxing, especially heavyweights. And from Thell Torrence I went to Buddy McGirt.”
When I lost to Danny Williams in my first fight, Chris Eubank Sr came and found me. I was in a fancy hotel in the West End. He came and found me, got my number. I didn’t even know Chris Eubank Sr personally, but he got my number. He said, ‘oh, they want to talk to you because the Danny Williams loss was so bad’. That fight was so bad for me. He just wanted to come and fight me, beat me and just find out, ‘Audley, what the hell happened there?’ And he was like ‘I know you like you’re living in silk pyjamas now so it’s hard for you to be motivated, so you earn money and you’re living a good life, but where is that guy? He talked about his warrior code and it was just a great conversation. I’ll never forget that talk. He came out of his own way and reached out to me and gave me some tips. And I took that into my rematch with Danny Williams. I went to Big Bear and you saw what happened in the rematch, almost destroyed him. I primed that version, so you talk about a prime Audley, Danny Williams 2, that night, I would have beaten anybody. Didn’t matter who I was facing that night. That night, you saw the best of Audley Harrison, and I would have destroyed anybody on that night.”
“But that fight there, I signed the contract because now I’m tied to Frank Warren and he has me for my whole career. And it’s kind of bittersweet because now I’ve just won that fight and I have just given up control, signed to the man that I didn’t want to sign with. So now it was a climax and an anticlimax. He’s tough on me mentally, but that’s the way it went. I was never able to reach those heights again and kind of just went into no man’s land. Got injured, had a bad car crash in 2007. I kind of was just off in the wilderness till I bumped into Eddie [Hearn] in Vegas at a poker tournament. Yeah. And Eddie said, ‘hey, Audley, what are you doing? Come back!’. Then we did the Prize Fighter.”
Q: Someone you faced during your career, Deontay Wilder, you felt his power first hand. If he ever got into the ring with Anthony Joshua, how would you see that one going?
AH: “Deontay Wilder has got a dangerous right hand, he’s very explosive and mentally, even though he’s lost to Fury, he seems like he’s got a rejuvenation fire. We’re not seeing that in Joshua in terms of his spirit, and sometimes that’s what you need in a fight. That confidence that he had, that swagger that he had, in terms of momentum right now, you’d have to go with Wilder. Deontay is trying to find himself. Malik Scott is in a good place with Deontay and they clearly have something good they’re building on.
“Joshua tried Robert Garcia, now he’s changed trainers again, obviously with a great trainer (Derrick James), but it will take time to gel and for the trainer to implement the stuff that he’s been working on. I think right now if they fight it would be a very exciting fight, but I’d probably go with Wilder. You can’t count AJ out, he’s always in great shape. Style wise if Joshua is coming forward in this fight and he doesn’t back up as much, but obviously you have a guy throwing big right hands, so it’s a tough assignment for Joshua but it’s definitely one that if he could find that fire, have a great training camp, he’d definitely be in the fight. You can’t rule him out. But right now I’d say Wilder would start as the favourite. He would start as the favourite in that fight.”
Q: If Joshua isn’t the next opponent for Deontay Wilder, do you see someone out there that would be a good match-up for him? They say styles make fights, but who would be your next pick for Wilder if it’s not Joshua?
AH: “The Joshua fight is the fight that we want to see. That’s the one. Outside of that, Joseph Parker just had a good win, names like that. I know he [Wilder] isn’t going to go lower than that. Even Dillian Whyte could be someone to consider because he needs a mark-in-time fight. Even Usyk, try and get the Usyk fight! He’s [Wilder] had his one warm-up fight so he’s ready to go back into the big stages. Obviously it doesn’t really make sense for him to fight Fury again, so really Joshua, Joe Parker, Dillain Whyte – that kind of level. There are some up and coming guys in America but that doesn’t really make sense for Wilder. He needs a big name to come back to. I would say a Parker or Whyte fight would make sense for him.”
Q: Do you have any regrets on how your career panned out? Are you happy looking back on it?
AH: “Ultimately, I would have loved to have won a world title, a legitimate version of a world title. I won the WBF, a legitimate version of a world title, under my own auspices, A-Force. It’s a regret that I didn’t get that done. But when I look back on my career, I know in the end I did it my way. I fought the system, which I always wanted to do, and the system didn’t let me go through the way I wanted to go through, and it was okay. So I kind of got rejected, being my own promoter coming up, like, doing it on my own. And that kind of hurts me when I think about it. But it’s for the right reasons. Unfortunately, I left the country as a result. I live in America now. 2004, when I lost that BBC deal, I left the country. I couldn’t be here. Mentally I couldn’t deal with it. But all good. When I look back now, all good. I feel like I could have dominated, I could have beaten Wladimir Klitschko, but not to be.”
Q: Tyson Fury recently said he’d rather give up the belt than fight his friend Joe Parker. Is that something that surprised you? Because obviously there’s a balance, isn’t there, between professionalism and friendship?
AH: “In boxing, it’s always hard to fight people you know, people that you’re connected with. It’s very hard to get mad about them, but you have to be professional and do the job. But I had it with Julius Francis in my 16th fight. When I came back to England and the BBC wanted to start controlling my opponents. I had a guy who was unbeaten from Europe and they said, ‘no, nobody knows him. We don’t want to box him. At least Julius Francis we know.’ I’m like, ‘Julius? He’s going to be a stinking fight. He’s going to be horrible because I know him, I’ve partied with him, I boxed him in the amateurs’. Those are the only saving graces. Ok, I can beat him in a rematch and avenge my loss to him from the amateur days. But it’s a pointless fight because we know each other and can’t get up for the fight. So we boxed him, we’ve done twelve rounds and it was horrible in terms of a spectacle. Okay, I got twelve rounds out of it, boxing. But it was very hard to get motivated, fired up, for somebody that you’ve been out with.”
“So I understand what Tyson Fury is saying, but ultimately you still got to go in and do the job. Ultimately, you’ll fight your guy, but it’s just hard to get motivated for that fight.”