© Jane Warburton / Saddo Boxing
After a break of 14 months, Audley Harrison of London, made his return on Saturday night as he faced Jason Barnett of Florida at the Thomas and Mack Centre, Las Vegas, on the undercard of the Joe Calzaghe vs Bernard Hopkins main event.
Under promoter Frank Warren again, Harrison has something to prove, because this is really his last chance. If he fails at this one - I doubt he’ll be taken seriously by the boxing notables - or fans again.
For me, Harrison won the Olympic Gold in 2000 and, in his mind I feel, he believed that he didn’t need to prove anything else, that the British public would give him respect and honour and he no longer needed to ’earn it’.
So, in my opinion, he adopted an attitude of “I won the Olympic Gold - you’re gonna respect me and worship me unconditionally now”. Well it doesn’t work like that!
He has never been really ‘busy’ since then and personal problems and a car accident last year meant that the ‘A-Force’ was out of action.
Now aged 36, and with a heavyweight division in need of a boost - Harrison has wasted time and it will be interesting to see whether he really is motivated to fight again.
It’s fair to say that he needed a big win - and though there were no ‘fireworks’ - he did get a fifth round stoppage.
Although the crowd jeer at the lack of action - Harrison had a steady start to the contest. He lands a good right uppercut just as the bell signals the end of round four and Barnett is marked up underneath both eyes as he goes back to his corner.
In the first half minute of round five - Barnett catches Harrison with a right hook but Harrison takes it well. Then mid-way through the frame Harrison lands a couple of body-punches, the first ones of the fight, and Barnett goes down to his knee. He gets up at the end of the count but the referee calls it off and the crowd boo their disapproval.
Afterward, a contented Harrison said he was happy with his jab - he’d worked on the jab and that had been his main focus.
Now it remains to be seen whether he does keep as ’busy’ as he promises during 2008.