Well, it was quicker than even the most cynical of punters had predicted – but at least Audley Harrison, the much-maligned British heavyweight, threw a punch.
Unfortunately, for a pumped-up 8,000 sell-out at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, Merseyside, before the 40-year-old Londoner could think about a follow up, he was out for the count, having been dropped by a flurry of explosive left and right hooks from fast-rising, unbeaten contender David Price (14-0, 12 knockouts).
And that, as they say, was it, folks. Harrison was never going to get up, meaning Price, 29, had taken just one minute and 22 seconds to successfully defend his British and Commonwealth belts for the first time. In the process, he has surely put an end to Harrison’s chequered career, which has persistently failed to live up to the expectations that accompany Olympic super heavyweight gold medallists.
But if the fans were disappointed with the brevity of the main show, and roundly booed Harrison (28-6, 21 KOs) as he lay poleaxed for the best part of two minutes trying to regain his battered senses, the emphatic result was definitely to their liking.
Local favorite Price seemed happy enough, too, albeit conceding that a slightly longer workout might have been more beneficial.
“The finish was as good as it could have been but not enough happened in the fight. I probably needed a few more rounds to show the best of myself,” said the 6-feet-9 Scouse powerhouse to UK broadcasters Box Nation TV.
“But the finish…sometimes I frighten myself and I’m not just saying that. It’s only in the last week of training that I ever feel good and then I know someone is going to be on the end of a hiding come Saturday night. Unfortunately, for Audley, that was him tonight but I never expected it to be that quick.
“But the power of that finish would have knocked out anybody in the world.”
Making a statement against a veteran with a tarnished reputation for a stream of virtual no-shows is never easy. Yet a first-round KO beats the three rounds then-WBA holder David Haye required to stop Harrison two years ago.
“It’s probably sent a message out because I don’t think anyone would fancy fighting me now because of the power I possess,” Price said before defending Harrison, adding: “Audley has come in for a lot of stick but people should remember he won an Olympic gold medal for our country and inspired a whole generation to take up boxing.
“He’s been a European champion, he is a former world title challenger and I’ve just dealt with him like that. I’ve soaked up the whole atmosphere this week, and tried to enjoy it as much as I can because I need to get used to it. With my team around me, I’m going all the way to the top.”
Price’s promoter Frank Maloney, who helped steer Lennox Lewis to his first heavyweight title, is equally bullish about the future – and again called out Tyson Fury, this time with a public offer of close to one million dollars to the also-undefeated British contender.
“If Tyson Fury wants to come and fight, instead of just being a coward on Twitter saying he wants to fight, let’s go. There’s half a million pounds on the table, he’s never seen that,” Maloney said.
“We will make that happen if he’s brave enough to come forward and stop sending stupid messages on Twitter. If he says ‘yes’, then, of course, it’s on. It’s the fight the whole of Britain wants to see.”
Photos / www.leighdawneyphotography.com