By Alexey Sukachev
In what will be long remembered as one of the most fascinating endings in the recent history of British boxing, seemingly wasted 2000 Sydney super heavyweight gold medalist Audley “A-Force” Harrison (27-4, 20 KOs) delivered a monstrous left hand equalizer to knock out bitter rival Michael Sprott (32-15, 17 KOs) cold at 1:05 of the twelfth and final round on Friday night at the Alexandra Palace in London. The newly-crowned European heavyweight champion Harrison, at 38, was seemingly on the brink of calling it a day, losing to smaller Sprott the majority of rounds and showing little will to deliver anything big, until he turned the whole fight around and avenged his only career kayo loss in a stunning fashion.
Sprott, who was just 2-4 since knocking Audley out cold three years ago, dug deep and found one more great fight in him pummeling and pounding Harrison from pillar to post for the entire first half of the contest. Harrison has never been rocked but was visibly unsettled by Sprott continuous aggression and fierce determination. Audley began to mount his comeback in round seven. In round eight, Audley delivered a long series of left uppercuts to rock Michael Sprott. He was the better man also in round nine. Sprott revived himself and got back into action in the tenth stanza but the eleventh was once again in A-Force’s favor.
Fightnews had it 104-105 – for Sprott before the dramatic end in the twelfth with a sudden shot by Harrison. Sprott was given an oxygen in the ring after a bad knockout.
British Darren Barker (22-0, 14 KOs) replaced Irish Matthew Macklin as the European middleweight champion after an extremely hard-fought unanimous decision over French pressure fighter Affif Belghecham (19-5-1, 4 KOs). Both combatants engaged into a crowd-pleasing brawl for twelve heated rounds. Better equipped Barker was a better man in the first half of the fight but gradually faded down the stretch. Oppositely, Belghecham survived an early onslaught behind his block and tight defense and started to hunt the Brit down in later rounds. Barker was able to utilized his foot speed to literally (and laterally) run out of danger.
At the end of give-and-take battle, Fightnews saw it 116-114 – for the Brit. Judges saw it 115-113, 116-112 and ridiculous 118-110 – for Darren Barker.
Former WBA 140lb world champion Gavin Rees (32-1, 14 KOs) outpointed journeyman Abdoulaye Soukouna (9-9-5, 1 KO) over six by a 59-55 score.