The champion maintained throughout the build-up that his fellow Londoner was not deserving of a title shot and that the fight was made simply due to the public’s interest in a former Olympic champion who is now simply a figure of fun.
So it proved, with Haye starting extremely tentatively before stepping it up to knock Harrison down and leave the 39-year-old surely staring at retirement.
While 30-year-old Haye came into the fight with a record of 24-1(22KOs), defending his title for the second time and hunting for unification bouts with the Klitschko brothers, Harrison was 27-4, (20KOs) and seeking to build on the momentum of a European title win in April.
That night ‘A-Force’ was losing widely to Michael Sprott before uncorking a winning left hand in the final round.
Against Haye, that same weapon was regarded as his best chance in a fight bookmakers gave him little chance of winning.
Harrison boasted a three-stone weight advantage as well as a two-and-a-half-inch height difference, though Haye’s slimmed-down frame enhanced his superior speed.
Harrison was booed into the ring like a pantomime villain and that continued in a tame opening round, with Harrison landing three southpaw jabs to Haye’s solitary body shot and occasional probing.
Referee Luis Pabon called the fighters together to urge them to fight during the second round, though Haye at least landed a hard right early on and two more later in the session before the fight exploded in the third.
Haye jumped in with a right hand and hurt Harrison visibly. With Harrison on the ropes he followed it with a left-right, left-right combination which snapped the challenger’s head back.
A further assault to the body followed before he focused on the head once more, unleashing left hooks and straight rights which sent his man crumpling to the floor.
Harrison was on his feet at eight but Haye ran across the ring to finish him off, teeing off with vicious right hands, a right uppercut and left hooks which repeatedly found their target.
When a dazed and endangered Harrison tried to cover up helplessly but took a roundhouse right flush, the referee called a halt to the fight one minute 53 seconds into the round.