The former friends will clash on Nov 13 at Manchester’s MEN Arena as 2000 Olympic champion Harrison looks to achieve his unlikely ambition of becoming a professional world champion. “I don’t believe Audley deserves a world title fight but fortunately for me there are enough people in Britain who want to see him get annihilated,” Haye, who defended his title against John Ruiz this year having beaten giant Russian Nikolai Valuev, said at today’s press conference. “The public want to finally close the curtain on the joke that is the Audley Harrison show…I want to see him stretched out for a final time. “Once I’ve cleaned up the mess, Audley’s going to slither back to Los Angeles.”
Having failed to agree a unification showdown with either of the Klitschko brothers, Bermondsey fighter Haye was short of viable alternative opponents.
While 38 year-old Harrison’s credentials are questionable, the fight is likely to make good money in Britain while ‘A-Force’ also boosted his reputation with a late knockout of Reading’s Michael Sprott earlier this year in a fight he had been losing clearly.
Haye, meanwhile, has yet to secure a dream fight against either WBC champion Vitali Klitschko or his brother Wladimir, the WBO and IBF holder. Poland’s Tomasz Adamek was the most credible challenger but Harrison was always a more financially viable option. Harrison has flattered to deceive since turning professional nine years ago, fighting a string of knockover opponents before being defeated by the likes of Danny Williams, Dominick Guinn, Sprott and Martin Rogan.
Despite those setbacks, Harrison never conceded defeat in his quest to challenge for a world title despite being widely mocked by the boxing public. Victory in the ‘Prizefighter’ tournament last year secured him a European title shot against Sprott which he took in dramatic fashion, knocking his countryman out in the 12th round to collect his first genuine title, which he subsequently relinquished due to injury sustained in the fight. “I’m ecstatic to get a shot at the heavyweight title,” Harrison said. “I’ve tasted his power and punching in training and he never hurt me. Ten years on from my Olympic title I will shock the world.”
The ‘Battle of Britain’ will be screened live on Sky Box Office.