LONDON, November 11, 2010 (AFP) – Audley Harrison has warned David Haye to expect a long and painful fight when the Britons clash for the world heavyweight title on Saturday.
Weeks of bad-mouthing will finally end when the two Britons face each other for Haye’s World Boxing Association (WBA) heavyweight title in front of 20,000 fans at the MEN Arena in Manchester.
It is the biggest heavyweight fight in Britain since Lennox Lewis stopped Frank Bruno for the World Boxing Council (WBC) title in 1993 and the animosity between the Londoners has helped stoke up interest in the fight in the UK.
Haye, 30, and Harrison, 39, were once friends and have even sparred together but at a news conference on Wednesday they continued their bickering.
As always, Harrison talked a good fight.
The 2000 Olympic gold medallist, who has been criticised throughout an unfulfilled professional career that has seen him suffer four defeats, insists the fight will be close and cannot envisage himself getting stopped.
"David thinks he is going to walk through me and this is going to be some sort of public execution, but this is going to be the fight of his life and it will be a close fight," he told a news conference.
"The Audley Harrison that turned up to the Olympics (2000) and brought home the gold medal and then beat Richel Hersisia (2004) and Danny Williams (2006) is the one who will turn up.
"I have fallen but never given up in my career and Saturday will be mission complete: Audley Harrison will be the new heavyweight champion of the world.
"I know he’s trained well and is 100 per cent and I’m going to have to be at my best to beat him. But the real Audley Harrison is going to turn up and I’ll destroy him. It’s my destiny.
"David does not want to give it up and I’m going to put everything on the line, so it’s going to be close. If I have to go down or get cut, then what ever it takes to win, I will do it.
"But David Haye is not going to break my spirit. He’s not going to knock me out. He couldn’t take me out when we sparred together years back and I’ve sparred with David too many times to know that.
"It’s going to be a long fight or David Haye gets knocked out. Either way, it will be the end of his reign.
"I’m not going anywhere early in this fight. I’m ready to go all the way. This is going to be a hard slog and I’m ready to do 15 rounds."
Haye, who won world titles at cruiserweight before stepping up to heavyweight, shrugged off Harrison’s claims and welcomed the prospect of the challenger being in peak condition for their grudge match.
"He was losing the fight against Michael Sprott when he pulled it out, but other than that where was this unbreakable spirit he talks about when he lost to Martin Rogan?" Haye said.