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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 October, 2003, 17:09 GMT 18:09 UK
Heavyweight dreams on hold
By Ben Dirs

Audley Harrison has won his first 13 professional fights

Roll up, roll up and take your seats for the Danny, Audley and Herbie three-ring circus.

Three-ring, ladies and gentlemen, because we may never get two of these three loose-talkers in one ring together.

For at a time when the British public should be feasting on the country's most appetising heavyweight scene for years, it is having to digest the juvenile barbs of playground bullies.

When former two-time WBO heavyweight champion Herbie Hide returned to the fray back in May, things looked very different - and very exciting for British boxing.

Hide said after his comeback win: "My message to Audrey (sic) and Danny Williams is 'I'm coming for you'.

"Williams is a pussycat and Harrison says he will fight me in five fights' time. What's he waiting for? Let's get it on."

The Rubicon, it seemed, had been crossed and a bloody war to decide the best heavyweight (beside Lennox Lewis) from these shores looked likely to ensue.

Olympic champion Audley Harrison was sucked into the mix after a ringside brawl involving himself and Hide, and even the long-since-retired Frank Bruno indicated he wanted a piece of the action.

Williams, the normally shy and retiring British and Commonwealth champion, warmed to the theme with gusto, issuing an open letter to Hide to fight him, which was quickly reciprocated.

But no sooner had the script been written, than one by one its pages were torn out and tossed on to the fire.

In June, under increasing criticism from the British press, Harrison announced he was upping sticks and moving to America.

Danny looks like a fighter waiting to get beat
Audley Harrison

"The move will provide me with a fresh outlook and some different and exciting opportunities and challenges," said Harrison.

While adding he would be back in the New Year to settle old scores, he was quick to distance himself after Friday's win over Lisandro Diaz.

"I'm in America which is where it's all happening. Williams and Hide will always stay on the British scene because they don't have the ambition to go on to the world stage.

"Danny looks like a fighter waiting to get beat, while although Herbie is dangerous, it really should be a fight for a world title, not a British one."

British and Commonwealth champion Danny Williams
Williams wants to fight Hide this year

This roughly translates as: "By the time I get back, Williams will be finished," and "a fight against Hide right now would be far too risky".

However, while a combination of physical and mental problems put paid to Bruno's unlikely dream, until last night Williams v Hide looked a done deal.

Last week, Williams kept his side of the bargain by beating, if controversially, Michael Sprott, while Hide looked impressive in beating Alex Vassilev at Alexandra Palace on Saturday night.

But in his post-fight interview, the unpredictable Hide hinted he had other ideas.

"I might skip Williams," he said.

"He's never done anything. Nobody wants this fight apart from Danny and his bank manager."

Hide, who shares the same lawyer as IBF champion Chris Byrd, hinted at a match-up with the American possibly with a view to bumping up the purse on a fight with Williams.

But perhaps Hide knows he might have trouble with the British champion and does not fancy the fight.

Either way, the unassuming Williams and the nation's boxing fraternity were left shaking their heads as a well worked script seemed to be up in flames.



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