Monday, October 5, 2009

British Scene Weekend Recap: Harrison wins Prizefighter Heavyweight III

Matt Chudley recaps this past Friday night's Prizefighter Heavyweights III show.

By clinically dispatching the Prizefighter field, once prized commodity Audley Harrison not only gained £32,000, but appears to have put himself in line for yet another opportunity to make a dent on the heavyweight division.

The victory could not have come at a better time for Harrison, as it appeared the Sydney Gold Medalist was out of chances after losing to Martin Rogan and being let go by Frank Warren last December.

Let’s get right to the action…

Round 1 – Scott Gammer vs Coleman Barrett

The first bout of the night saw former British champion Scott Gammer taking on inexperienced and undersized Irishman Coleman Barrett. A former bronze medalist in the junior world amatuer championships almost a decade ago, Barrett displayed his speed and quick hands early, peppering the bigger man and quickly moving in and out of the pocket.

Looking for the big shots, Gammer was outworked early as Barrett kept moving while Gammer plodded. Setting his feet and looking to land heavier shots, Gammer found more success in the 2nd with accurate left hooks, using his size and strength to pressure the younger man.

The underdog Coleman was back on his toes in the third and despite a late push from Gammer in the closing seconds, did enough to get the nod on the judges scorecards with a 29-28 verdict on all three cards.

Round 1- Danny Williams vs Carl Baker

The second bout pitted former world title challenger and one of the most popular fighters in the UK, Danny Williams against unheralded southpaw Carl Baker.

Showing little regard for the early threat of the 287lber, Williams seemed happy to engage the heavy handed brawler. That proved a mistake, as a powerful right hand from Baker in the opening exchange caught Williams high on the side of the head and sent him down to the canvas. Williams rose on unsteady legs to beat the count but was down again soon after by a partially blocked right hand and absorbed further punishment while covering up on the ropes.

Still not fully recovered Williams was back on the canvas early in the second from what appeared to be another right cross but fortunately for him it was mistakenly called as a slip. Despite the further trouble, Williams started to find his way back into the contest in the round, and knowing he needed a knockout, came out firing in the final frame.

He went straight after the fleshy torso of the Sheffield man, before rocking him with a right hand that left Baker reeling around the ring and seemingly on the verge of being stopped. With the crowd on their feet Baker tried to hold as best he could and Williams managed to smother much of his work, leaving the 27 year old to see out the 3rd and take a huge upset victory on the cards.

The shocking loss deprived the 5,000 strong crowd at the Excel center the chance of seeing the anticipated rematch between Williams and Harrison, but once again proved that anything can happen in the Prizefighter format.

Round 1… Audley Harrison vs Scott Belshaw

With his bitter rival now gone, Harrison launched his campaign against Scott Belshaw. With Harrison starting cautiously, it was Belshaw who appeared to be taking the first round with greater activity. That was until Harrison caught Belshaw coming in with a straight left to the chin. The big man from Northen Ireland dropped after a delayed reaction.

Harrison was happy to sit back in the second too, but later in the round once again found Belshaw flush with a short left after Belshaw charged in behind a wide looping right. The sound of the bell was not enough to save Belshaw as referee Dave Paris waved off the fight.

Round 1… Danny Hughes vs Neil Perkins

The final opening round match-up saw two unheralded novices and former sparring partners in Danny Hughes and Neil Perkins fighting for the right to face Harrison in the Semi-finals.

After a lively and aggressive start, Hughes stepped forward, putting all his weight into a huge right cross that caught the smaller Perkins flush on the chin. Perkins struggled mightily to get up, and did manage to get to his feet but the bout was wisely stopped. It was all over in less than a minute.

Semi-Final…Coleman Barrett vs Carl Baker

In match-up of upset winners, the lightest and heaviest fighters squared off in the first semi as Coleman Barrett took on Carl Baker.

Having come through the war with Williams, Baker again started well, arguably taking the first round with an accurate jab that landed whenever he threw it. However it became apparent in the second that Barrett had been pacing himself early, and was much the busier of the two fighters the rest of the way. He intelligently moved in and out of range, catching Baker with quick hands and rocking him the third with a two fisted attack to take the fight by 29-28 scores on all 3 judges cards.

Semi-Final… Audley Harrison vs Danny Hughes

Employing a different strategy this time, Harrison took the centre of the ring and looked to push Hughes back, believing that he would be much less effective on the back foot. Though enforcing his ring generalship, Harrison was decidedly negative, not committing with anything until midway through the second when Hughes started to try and press the fight. After taking a couple of solid lefts in the second, Hughes was put down in the 3rd from Harrison’s accurate counters and forced to hold on. The scores were 30-26, 29-27, 29-28 in favor of Harrison.

Final… Audley Harrison vs Coleman Barrett

With clear similarities between the tournament format and the amatuer game, it was probably no surprise that the two most decorated amatuers in the field found themselves in the final.

The bout got off to a nasty start as Barrett deliberately headbutted Harrison on the blind side of referee Dave Paris. Had the man in charge seen the infraction, it would have almost certainly meant a deduction on the cards.

Instead it may have served to rattle the always anxious Harrison, who found himself thoroughly out boxed by the Irishman in the first 3 minutes. Barrett moved in and out quickly throughout the opening frame, hitting a confused Harrison at will.

After continuing to look panicked and out of ideas in the second, Harrison suddenly came to life, finding success with his powerful left. After a good 30 second stretch where the big man landed some sharp blows, he connected with a hard left hand that caught Barrett flush on the chin as the Irishman was backing away.

A lifeless Barrett fell backwards on the ropes and down to the canvas, with his corner quickly on their way into the ring. Barrett managed to get to his feet, but Paris had seen enough and the 37 year old Harrison was the winner.

Following the trophy presentation the self-managed fighter who is now based in California stated that he had formed an alliance with the events promoter Barry Hearn and will be looking towards British and European titles once more.

e-mail Matt Chudley