Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Barry's Heavies Are Lightweight but It Will Still Be a Thrilling Show

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Barry's Heavies Are Lightweight but It Will Still Be a Thrilling Show

Article excerpt

Byline: John Inverdale

SO, here's a question for you.

SWho is the current British heavyweight boxing champion? Time was when the answer would have tripped as readily from your lips as those of the Arsenal manager and the captain of the England cricket team.

Not any more. A proud division of the fight game has disappeared into oblivion in recent years to the point where you might as well ask who is the fourthtop ranked British male tennis player. Well, to put you out of your misery early on, here's the answer: it's Danny Williams. Yes, you thought he'd retired long ago, but no. He retained his title with a victory at the Crowtree Leisure Centre in Sunderland in May in a contest described by Boxing News as one of the worst fights seen in a long while.

Suddenly the eras of Joe Bugner and Richard Dunn are reinvented as the golden days. Oh 'Enery -- how did it come to the point where your world is as far from the halcyon days of live peaktime televised showdowns at the Royal Albert Hall as Portsmouth are from Prizefighter is a night, in a it's also Premier League survival? So here's another question.

to be to watch In such circumstances, what on earth do you do to try to resurrect the heavyweight corpse? If you're Barry Hearn, you morph into Simon Cowell and you create an event at the Excel Arena that has to be the must-see boxing event of the year.

In case you've missed this -- which is highly possible -- Hearn stages his latest Prizefighter bill tonight, as boxing becomes a punching and jabbing version of X-Factor.

Strictly no lightweights. This is eight heavyweights, some still running up the hill of ambition and others hurtling down the other side, who will contest seven fights on a knockout basis, resulting in a final at the end of the evening and an outright winner. You probably won't have heard of some of the guys who are taking part, but you will know Williams.

And you will certainly know Audley Harrison. Yep. That Audley; nine years on from his Sydney gold medal and now aged 37. Who knows what he's been up to of late but here he is tonight, viewing the evening's action as a precursor to an assault on the world heavyweight title. …

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