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Page last updated at 16:32 GMT, Thursday, 26 June 2008 17:32 UK

Rogan and Harrison trade verbals

By Richard Petrie

Audley Harrison
Harrison has 22 wins from 25 pro encounters

Belfast fighter Martin Rogan has squared up with Audley Harrison ahead of their fight in Birmingham on 19 July - but not in the traditional fashion.

The pair traded verbal blows by means of a telephone conference call organised by promoter Frank Warren.

The exchange began with an element of farce as Harrison, at first, failed to appear on the line from his training base in the United States of America.

Rogan was in fighting mood as he addressed journalists over the phone.

"It's great to talk to you all, it's just a pity that Audley could not get himself out of bed to do the same.

"If he is wise, he will not get out of bed on 19 July either as I am going to knock him out," jabbed the Belfast boxer.


When contact was made with Harrison, journalists were invited to put questions to the pair and the atmosphere became more cordial than is normally the case at head-to-head pre-fight press conferences.

"My best years are not behind me, my best career achievements are in front of me," stated Harrison in response to a Belfast reporter.

Martin Rogan
Rogan is looking forward to fighting Harrison

"My state of mind is the best it has been for years and I am confident I am going to win a world title.

"I honestly believe that I am planting the fruits and the plants will bear fruit - I will not be denied," said the bullish former Olympic gold medallist.

"The fights will come thick and fast now but I am live and kicking, I have the skill, ability and mental application to make it to the very top.

"I have to keep winning and I am confident I can do that. I am always re-evaluating and creating new goals for myself."

Harrison generously paid tribute to Rogan "for taking the fight with me" but insisted he was a class above his opponent.

"There is a big gulf between me and the boxers he has faced before - I'm sure he'll give it his best shot but his style is not new to me, I've fought loads of boxers like him."

At this stage, Rogan was predictably playing something of a supporting role and it was evident that the British media's fascination with Harrison has not entirely waned, even after eight years of failing to impress since his amateur heroics in Sydney.

He has everything to lose but I am dangerous because I have everything to gain

Martin Rogan

One would have thought that the safe distance between journalists and fighter may have provoked more aggressive lines of questioning but the atmosphere remained convivial.

Rogan did get in on the act after patiently waiting his turn.

"Obviously this is a big step up for me but, with respect to Audley, I had only started boxing when he was winning the gold medal in Sydney," he explained in more measured tones than in his original outburst.

"It was good to see him win gold but he has been claiming that he is going to be a world champion for eight years since winning that medal.

"I will be throwing a lot of punches and coming with great fight in my heart but it will be good to be in the ring with Audley.

"He has everything to lose but I am dangerous because I have everything to gain. It's a win-win situation for me," said Rogan, who is unbeaten in 10 professional contests.

The whole experience had a slightly surreal feel for a sport in which combat at close quarters inside and outside the ring is the norm, but one has to move with the times I guess.

Honours even then in the verbal sparring stakes with neither boxer landing a knockout punch but expect more fireworks when the fighters square up for real in the ring next month.

see also
Harrison to fight Rogan in July
13 Jun 08 |  Boxing

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