The Most Delusional Man in World Sport

George KotschyCorrespondent IFebruary 26, 2009

For those of you who aren't familiar with his work, this is Audley Harrison. He is infamous in the UK as one of the greatest underachievers in recent sporting history.

Harrison is a Heavyweight boxer who seemed destined for great things after winning a gold medal at the Sydney Olympic games in 2000. He displayed excellent technique, power and composure in Australia and, at 6 ft 5, seemed equipped with all the tools to make a successful transition from amateur boxing to the professional ranks.

He was entering a Heavyweight division which contained no clear successor to the ageing Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield and Harrison seemed to have every chance of making a success of his pro career.

"A-Force", as he christened himself, signed a lucrative £1 million deal with the BBC to have his first few professional fights shown on terrestrial television. This allowed the whole country to witness his negative, lacklustre performances against pub fighters, and the delusional speeches that would follow.

If world titles were simply won with words, Harrison would be the most successful fighter of all time.

After every bout he would stand in front of the cameras and tell the watching public how he had a plan, how his next fight would be against a better opponent and would see him produce an improved performance and how there was no doubt in his mind that he would become a world champion.

After a number of tentative, unconvincing wins, during which Harrison looked unfit and scared of getting beaten, the British public turned on him. Boos rung out as the paying public let the big Londoner know he simply wasn't good enough.

Today, almost nine years since Harrison won his Olympic gold medal, "A-Farce" as he has become known, is 37 and has a record of 23 wins and four defeats. He has never stepped into the ring with any fighter of true class and lost his last fight to an Irish taxi driver called Martin Rogan.

Yet, Harrison’s delusions of grandeur continue and he popped his unwanted head back into the British limelight recently by calling out David Haye.

Haye is the antithesis of Harrison. He is a hard hitting, gutsy fighter who has ducked no-one and backs up his words with performances. Not only that, Haye is a champion.

He was the undisputed Cruiserweight champion of the world, holding the WBA, WBC, WBO and The Ring magazine titles. He has knocked out 21 of his 23 opponents and is now operating in the Heavyweight division.

He is ranked as the No. 2 contender to the WBO champion Wladimir Klitschko and has been trailing the Ukrainian giant, publically calling him out, so far unsuccessfully.

Audley Harrison, never one to miss a chance to put himself in the spot light, has now called out David Haye. Harrison has said that, with a fight against either Klitschko appearing unlikely, Haye should step into the ring with him in a warm up bout.

“A-Force” has added some spice to the proposal by labelling Haye as ungrateful and saying that he used Harrison when he was on his way up. Harrison claims that when Haye was just starting out he used to put him on the undercard of his shows as a favour. Now he says he wants the favour returned.

David Haye comes across as a surprisingly intelligent, cerebral boxer, and if he has any sense he won’t be drawn into this.

Haye has a genuine chance of bringing the excitement back to the Heavyweight division. He is a precocious talent who can provide the knockout punching power and marketable appeal that is so lacking in boxing’s premier division at present.

While Harrison is not even on the same plane as Haye, stepping into the ring with him could be a mistake that could cost him his career. Such a mega-bout might just awaken the talented boxer that still lurks somewhere within Harrison and provide the spring board for a shock defeat.

Haye should politely decline Harrison’s desperate plea and leave him to dwindle away the remaining short years of his career. Then hopefully he will retire and give all of our ears and eyes a rest.