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Audley Harrison
"The world has been waiting to see what Audley Harrison will do next"
 real 14k

Friday, 19 January, 2001, 17:44 GMT
Harrison signs deal with BBC
Audley Harrison
Audley Harrison has the boxing world at his feet
Audley Harrison has agreed an exclusive two-year deal with the BBC for the live broadcast of his professional fights.

Britain's Olympic super-heavyweight champion is expected to make his eagerly-awaited pro debut in either April or May.

The BBC fought off competition from other broadcasters to sign the fighter seen by many as an eventual successor to Britain's current world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis.

Harrison said: "I'm ready to help build British boxing back up in the public eye with the BBC.

"My ultimate aim is to be heavyweight champion of the world, but first I've got to get a few wins under my belt and I'm looking forward to doing that live on the BBC."

BBC Director of Sport Peter Salmon said: "This is a serious heavyweight win. For the first time in nearly a decade, top class, heavyweight boxing will be available free to air to the whole nation.

"When I first saw Audley fight in Sydney, I was overwhelmed by his commitment, self-belief and dedication.

"As I watched him win gold, I knew I had found the centrepiece of a new boxing initiative. An Olympic hero - a real inspiration to sports fans everywhere."

Latecomer

Harrison, 28, who also won gold at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, is a relative latecomer to the professional ranks.

He only took up boxing at the age of 19 but learnt his ring craft at a hotbed of amateur talent, the Repton Boys Club in London's East End.

Audley Harrison and Murkharkhan Dildabekov
Harrison on his way to Olympic victory
Before his gold-winning success in Sydney he was already receiving offers in excess of 100,000 to turn professional.

But Harrison was determined to make his mark at the Olympics, as well as completing his education - he how has a degree in Sports Studies from Brunel University.

He beat Murkharkhan Dildabekov of Uzbekistan in the super-heavyweight final to become Britain's first Olympic gold medallist since Chris Finegan in 1968.

Harrison has been in discussions with Lennox Lewis and his advisers about the possibility of fighting on the bill of the world champion's next title defence.

"Once I start boxing again, I want to be active," said Harrison.


Some of the fights might be in the UK
  Audley Harrison

"I haven't looked at my schedule yet but if everything went OK I would expect to be in the ring every two months.

"Some of those fights will be in Britain but maybe some others might be in the United States."

As well as the Harrison deal, which covers both TV and radio, BBC Sport has also secured the exclusive terrestrial TV rights to some top amateur boxing.

It will cover both the World Amateur Boxing Championships, in Belfast this June, and the Four Nations ABAs this April, in Liverpool.

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See also:

01 Oct 00 |  Other Sports
Audley's destiny
17 Jan 01 |  Other Sports
Lewis writes off challengers
04 Jan 01 |  Other Sports
Harrison and Lewis set for talks
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