Barry Hearn believes Prizefighter Heavyweights III winner Audley Harrison could have a shot at a world title before 2011.
Hearn, who promoted Friday’s Prizefighter event, thinks Harrison, 37, is finally showing his ability after winning an Olympic gold in 2000.
“Winning Prizefighter is the biggest thing that has happened to Audley Harrison since turning professional and he did it with style and power,” said Hearn. “He showed people he has ability and turned the boos into cheers.
“I’ve watched Audley’s career since he turned professional with an Olympic gold medal around his neck. He’s had his critics - I’ve been one of them - who have complained he talks a great fight but doesn’t deliver.
“Audley is a great self-publicist but on Friday he showed he is a great fighter and a potential world-beater. His style is infuriating and I would hate to train him as I he believe he has a gameplan that he concocts himself and, as usual, listens to nobody.
“The fact is though, he is a class act as every punch that knocked down three different opponents was executed quite beautifully and would’ve had a concussive effect on any heavyweight in the world.
“Where does Audley go from him? Well, it all depends on Audley! If he concentrates on his boxing and allows professionals to do their job properly, then I believe he could get a crack at a world heavyweight title in the next 12 months.
“Lets be honest, time isn’t on his side. He’s coming up to his 38th birthday and few television networks are, at this moment, banging the door down to have him on their station.
“It’s harsh but true so he needs to do a job inside and outside of the ring. For me the plan would be simple. A quick warm-up, fight a European challenger, then straight for a world title. Achievable? Yes. Impossible? No. Likely? Who knows? It depends on Audley.”
Harrison had threatened to quit boxing if he failed in Prizefighter but impressive victories over Scott Belshaw and previously undefeated duo Danny Hughes and Coleman Barrett saved his career.
However, he was still booed by a number of people among a sell-out crowd of 5,000 at the ExCel Arena in London and Hearn believes Harrison should do his talking in the ring.
“People will always boo a fighter that talks a good fight and doesn’t deliver,” added Hearn. “He has lost to Michael Sprott and Martin Rogan and that did not fit with his assertions that he was going to be undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
“The British public like to see triers, not posers. They like heart and effort as well as quality and Audley hadn’t shown enough of that in the past. But on Friday he began to show what he can do. The manor of his victory has reinvented some level of British support but there’s still a long way to go.
“Had Audley not won Prizefighter, the only way for him to go would’ve been retirement. The fact he won it means he has one last chance on his personal road to redemption and a last crack at achieving his dreams.
“It’s not going to be easy and there’s still a long, hard road ahead but at least he is travelling in the right direction.”