Friday, 10 September 2010

The debacle has landed.

Just when you though that boxing had no further depths to plummet, when the nadir appeared to have been found, when the barrel had been scraped so much that there was next to nothing left of it: Audley Harrison has a shot at the Heavyweight Championship of the World. Could this be the same man who got battered by an Irish taxi driver just a couple of years ago? The same man who has never won domestic honours, losing in the worst British title fight I have ever seen against Danny Williams? The same man who was soundly out-boxed by the mediocre Dominick Guinn? Surely not the same man who was stapled to the canvas by a Michael Sprott left hook? Unfortunately, it is the very same. I don't know who will read this but whoever you are, you are at least as deserving of a title shot. He is quite comfortably ranked outside of the top 10 in all of the major sanctioning bodies - although expect him to be suddenly parachuted in to the WBA list in attempt to justify this pathetic occurrence. It is also a major personal blow to the credibility of David Haye.

I have been a fan of Haye's since his amateur days and was convinced then that he would be a world champion. I travelled to Paris to watch him clinch the Cruiserwight title in epic fashion against the menacing Jean Marc-Mormeck but now I have to say that I have lost a great deal of respect for the man. It is as if he has had an attitude transplant: Haye was willing to face people like Arthur Williams and Carl Thompson very early on in his career. He moved to European level swiftly with the destruction of Alexander Gurov and appeared to be a throwback fighter who wished to excite the fans rather than his manager or accountant. However, there is no excuse for the Harrison fight other than a man who is happy to beat people up for cash.

Apparently it would seem that, if you stand in front of a camera long enough – as Harrison has - saying that being a world champion is your destiny, you become deserving of a title shot. I've wasted my time. I could have apprehended every news interview of the last ten years saying that, 'This is my destiny' much in the same vein as a 16 year old reject from X-Factor, maybe I would have been given a go. Harrison has spent the last 10 years saying, to anyone who would listen, 'They don't give Olympic medals away'. No they don't but then professional boxing is another sport and when you do absolutely horseshit in a 10 year career - after achieving such an Olympic feat - you do not deserve to be given a puncher's chance of winning a world title. I imagine that Harrison's defence on a murder charge would be, 'they don't give gold medals away' or if his girlfriend sulked after a poor bedroom performance he would rebuke her ignorance with, 'but my dear, they don't give gold medals away'.

Harrison has a lot of natural gifts but sadly everything else is lacking. He paws with his jab rather than throwing it, leaving himself open to fast counters, he plods around the ring in straight lines, he has the amateur habit of leaning back to avoid all punches and is notoriously gun-shy which in itself raises questions about his fighting heart.

The newspapers are lauding it as the biggest British fight since Lewis Vs Bruno. That is more an indictment of the poor coverage boxing now receives in the UK than anything else. I can not think of a fight more pantomime than this shambles since Butterbean fought Ray Mercer, or for that matter, Les Dennis Vs Bob Mortimer – at least that was fought with men of comparable ability. I implore people not to watch this fight.

Couture Vs Toney; The Aftermath

So, in the end, everyone had read their scripts: Toney wound up staring at the ceiling within seconds and Couture had less of a challenge then he does teaching his 11-15 year olds wrestling class. He feinted with his hands from the outset before shooting a very low single leg, moved to full mount and retained the position. From there he executed some ground and pound whilst steering Toney towards the cage. From there he found the opening to establish an arm triangle close to the cage. The debacle came to an end in just over three minutes.

Toney talked afterwards of having mistimed Couture’s shoot, it simply would not have mattered. Couture was an alternate in the US Olympic wrestling team and has been in MMA for over a decade, Toney had trained to stuff shoots for a matter of months: he never saw it coming. The difference between a grappler being put on his back and a man off the street was highlighted in embarrassing fashion for Toney. He looked like Stephen Hawking would if he had fallen out of bed in the middle of the night: his arms flailed around hopelessly whilst his legs remained motionless and uninvolved.

The fight will not enhance Randy’s standings and he is still waiting in line for a return to title contention, an interesting fight with Cro-cop has been touted although a return to the light-heavy scene is more in keeping with the statements that he has made about the heavyweights since losing to Lesnar. For Toney it may have raised his profile somewhat as he has been out of the ring since 2009 and has not fought in a top level fight since losing to Sam Peter in 2007. The media coverage alone could steer him towards bigger fights.

In the main event on the card BJ Penn was soundly beaten by Frankie Edgar. It was an even more convincing performance than the first time around with Edgar taking Penn down early and mixing his attacks up very effectively. He changed his levels and proved to be an elusive target whilst keeping up a high offensive tempo. It was clear that Penn was out of his comfort zone fighting a smaller, faster opponent having spent many of his fights taking on bigger, stronger foes. Edgar won a wide decision, taking every round.

Penn has said that he is looking to return to action sooner rather than later and only time will tell if Penn has seen better days or whether Edgar is just his stylistic bogeyman.