Haye batters Harrison in three rounds
After a cautious first round, where fans at Manchester‘s MEN Arena booed both boxers for their defensive approach, the fight sprang to life in the third when Haye landed with a barrage of right hooks and uppercuts which sent Harrison to the canvas.
Harrison managed to beat the count but the bout was stopped shortly after with the challenger offering no offence as Haye continued to land heavy blows.
“I told people I’d do it in three and that’s what I did,” Haye, 30, said. “I know a lot of people made a lot of money (on that outcome).”
The win extended Haye’s record to 25 victories (23 knockouts) and one defeat and immediately posed the question of when he would take on one or both of the Klitschko brothers, who hold the four other heavyweight titles.
“It has to happen in 2011, I retire in 2011,” he said of a fight with the Ukrainians.
The former undisputed cruiserweight champion had been due to fight Vladimir, the younger of the Klitschkos, in June last year but withdrew citing an injury. Vladimir holds the WBO, IBF and IBO world titles while Vitali is the WBC champion.
Haye said they needed to sit down and thrash out a deal, with his trainer saying it should be a 50-50 fight. Previous negotiations have stalled over money issues and Haye said he would not delay his retirement plans to accommodate them.
“No waiting, an extra bit of pressure for them to pull their socks up,” said Haye, who defended his title for a second time. “Unifying the heavyweight division will really make me happy.”
He admitted Saturday’s fight would not have done much for his standing on the international boxing stage but it had been good in terms of its high profile in Britain.
Fans, some of whom paid £1,000 for a ticket, felt cheated as they taunted Harrison afterwards with “How can you sleep?”, “You’re a farce”, “It was pitiful” as the 2000 Olympic gold medallist offered nothing in the way of attack.
Although he refused to talk about retirement, boxing pundits wondered how he could continue with any credibility with a professional record of 27 wins and five defeats after talking up his chances in this fight saying it was his “destiny” to win.
Dubbed “Fraudley” and “Ordinary” in the past, those nicknames seem unlikely to disappear as Harrison seemed almost hypnotised by the bobbing-and-moving Haye.
The southpaw’s game plan of taking the fight the 12-round distance so he could capitalise on his three-stone weight advantage came to nothing when Haye unleashed a series of blows.
“I didn’t get the opportunity to land that left hand,” said 39-year-old Harrison.
“I beat the count and felt OK … but it wasn’t to be my night. No excuses, he caught me with a good shot. I went in there to win but didn’t get the result so I have to take it like a man.”
Asked how much Harrison had hurt him, Haye laughed.
Once sparring partners and good friends, the pair had become enemies over the years but Haye offered an olive branch after dishing out a battering that had Harrison close to tears after only the third all-British heavyweight world title fight.
“We straightened it out once and for all in the ring,” said Haye, who had embraced his challenger at the end. “I’d like to take him out for a drink after this.”