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Thursday, 11 July, 2002, 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK
Lewis versus Harrison
Lennox Lewis (left) receives an award from Audley Harrison (right)
Harrison (right) hopes to follow in Lewis' (left) footsteps

Six professional fights is not long in a boxing career, but it has been long enough to cast considerable doubt over Audley Harrison's credentials as a would-be world champion.

The great British hope has stumbled out of the blocks since winning the Olympic super-heavyweight title in 2000.

His latest win - a competent points decision over journeyman Dominic Negus - has done little to appease critics like Richie Woodhall.


You've got to question Audley's punching power
Ritchie Woodhall

But is the weight of expectation too heavy on Audley's broad shoulders at this stage of his development?

And more importantly, does his career compare favourably to that of Lennox Lewis, who also won the super-heavyweight Olympic crown, before becoming an elite champion?


Lewis v Harrison: Their first six fights

Lewis' first six bouts - against Al Malcolm, Bruce Johnson, Andrew Gerrard, Steve Garber and Melvin Epps and Greg Gorrell - were not notable for their quality.

But they did all take place within six months of each other in 1989 and resulted in comprehensive early-round victories for the current world champ.

Harrison's first fights - with a similar cast of journeymen and unknowns - have taken more than a year and three of them have gone the distance.

This is justifiable for a lighter heavyweight like Evander Holyfield, who relied on points early in his career, but it is hardly impressive from an 18-stone behemoth like Harrison.


Lewis v Harrison: Punching power

"You've got to question Audley's punching power," said Richie Woodhall, a former WBC super-middleweight champion.

Audley Harrison's win over Dominic Negus was marred by controversy
Audley (right) still has much to prove

"Frank Bruno, Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson were knocking people out left, right and centre when they were at the same stage of their careers."

That Harrison was unable to knock out Negus does not damage his pro record but it raises concerns for the future.

Here is a man built to destroy opponents, relying instead on the judges and on his questionable stamina for the late rounds.


Lewis v Harrison: Their age

Harrison must hurry up his fights and his career if he is to become heavyweight champion of the world.

Lewis stepped up slowly after his pro debut, but he could afford the luxury of 22 fights before he was handed the WBC belt in 1992.

Harrison, one suspects, cannot.

Already 30, he has only a limited number of good boxing years ahead of him.

Lennox Lewis lands a punch on Mike Tyson
Lewis' punch cannot be questioned

Notwithstanding the fact that Lewis appears to be at his best at the age of 36 and that George Foreman was world champion at 48, time is already running out for Harrison.

Perhaps the most relevant comparison between him and Lewis is by age.

By the time Lewis was 30, he had already won and lost a world championship, beating Ossie Ocasio, Mike Weaver, Derek Williams and "Razor" Ruddock along the way.


Lewis v Harrison: Their futures

The heavyweight division is soon to be without its old warhorses - as Lewis and his contemporaries Tyson and Evander Holyfield will soon retire.

That could leave the door open for Harrison, but with talented WBO champ Vladimir Klitschko lying in wait at the tender age of 26, the Olympian must step up in class quickly if he is to realise his boxing dreams.

Audley Harrison's professional career - so far

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