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Ten quotes that made Audley A-Farce

Ben Blackmore February 22, 2013
© PA Photos

Despite promising he would quit boxing if he lost to David Price, Audley Harrison finds himself stepping back into a boxing ring this weekend as he once again attempts to prove he is something resembling a boxer.

Few men in the history of the noble art have managed to talk a bigger game than Harrison without any hint of substance to back it up. Yes he is an Olympic champion, but nothing he has done as a professional has justified the following statements...

"When I came out of the Olympics they called me Muhammad Ali, then four years later I'm 'Fraudley'. But after this fight I'll be extraordinary."

Quite aside from the embarrassing attempt to rhyme like Muhammad Ali, the very fact Harrison felt anybody classed him in the same league as the legend is in itself an "extraordinary" act of delusion.

On the one hand you have Ali, voted the Greatest Sportsman of the 20th Century, a 22-year-old world champion who is arguably the best boxer to have graced the planet, famous for memorable battles with Joe Frazier and George Foreman.

On the other you have Fraudley, ninth in Strictly Come Dancing, loser to Michael Sprott and Martin Rogan, and famous for eating the right hands of David Haye and David Price.

"Part of the beast that is David Haye, I created it. He idolised me. I'm coming back to destroy a part I left behind years ago."

You can see it can't you? The speed, the technical finesse, the confidence, the animal power. When David Haye looks in a mirror, Audley Harrison stares directly back.

As for coming back to destroy him? Well after two rounds of flirting, it was Harrison who was destroyed as Haye tore him apart. "It was an early stoppage," claimed Harrison, presumably referring to a fight on the undercard.

"When I've knocked you out and I've got your belt, I will come over to you with some ice and say: 'Am I still delusional?"

A hint of irony in the question, given that it was Harrison who needed the ice pack after Haye had finished him. Delusional? Just a tad.

"The failure I have had and overcome is like the Titanic going through the iceberg."

Good of Audley to rightly recognise his boxing career has indeed been a disaster. He's spot on here, his career is like the Titanic. Every so often, both make it onto our TV screens, and each time a little part of you wonders if this time things will be different. Then both sink while everyone eats popcorn.

Audley Harrison: Once likened to Muhammad Ali? © PA Photos

"It is very hard for a rose to grow from the concrete but I found a way."

For a boxer to describe himself as a rose is peculiar in itself, but to suggest he forced his way through concrete is just bizarre. Remember, this is the man blessed with so much talent and size that he breezed to an Olympic gold medal. Everything was going for him, everything other than a chin and a heavy dose of courage of course. Losses to Danny Williams, Dominick Guinn, Michael Sprott... all big names... it's a wonder that rose saw daylight at all.

"I'll never be crash, bang, wallop - and I'm glad about that. My style is unique and I can have problems like all stars can."

Issue No. 1: You're not really a "star" Audley. Not in the boxing world.

Issue No. 2: Your style is indeed unique. Rarely, if ever, has a pugilist managed to throw so few punches and talk his way into so many big fights.

Issue No. 3: Somewhat harsh to say you'll never be "crash, bang, wallop". There was that almighty jab you threw at Haye, there was that threatening feint that almost hurt Price, oh and don't forget that frightening time you clinched with Sprott. Memorable.

"I can't call myself the greatest but I can say this is the greatest comeback story in British sport, bar none."

Tough to argue. When we at ESPN Towers write our top ten British sporting comebacks, Steven Redgrave's return to a rowing boat will be at No. 3, Liverpool's Champions League miracle against AC Milan at No. 2, and Harrison's decision to get knocked out again will be No. 1.

"I came to realise that my ego was out of control. I was arrogant. I was ruthless with my staff. I was bad to women. I needed to be crushed, cut down, diminished almost to nothing."

If only Audley hit the target with punches as often as he does words. Spot on assessment sir.

"If I lose to David Price, I've got no future. It's over. It's over for me as a professional fighter if I lose to David Price. This is the last-chance saloon for me."

We all agreed with Harrison at the time of this particular quote, and then sat back to watch the final chapter as Price annihilated him. And then he said the following...

"After the David Price fight people thought I would never get back from it and that they had seen the last of me. But I have come up from underneath all of that rubble and it didn't take me long to say, 'Hell, it's not over yet!'"

We give up.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Ben Blackmore is deputy editor of ESPN.co.uk