Wilder to face Harrison on April 27 Khan-Diaz card
Undefeated heavyweight prospect and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder will face southpaw 2000 Olympic gold medalist Audley Harrison on April 27 at Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, England, Wilder’s trainer, Jay Deas, and Golden Boy matchmaker, Robert Diaz, informed RingTV.com.
Wilder-Harrison will take place on the undercard of a main event featuring former IBF/WBA junior welterweight beltholder Amir Khan against two-time lightweight beltholder Julio Diaz, of Coachella, Calif., in a 143-pound catchweight clash on Showtime.
“Wilder and Harrison will be on the undercard,” said Diaz. “Both sides have agreed and both sides have signed agreements.”
Called “The No. 1 heavyweight prospect here in the United States” by his promoter, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, the 6-foot-7 Wilder will be after his 28th straight knockout in as many victories without a loss against the nearly 6-foot-6 Harrison (31-6, 23 knockouts), of a native of England.
“It’s a done deal for the Amir Khan-Julio Diaz undercard,” said Deas, who trains Wilder along with 1984 Olympic gold medalist and former professional titleholder Mark Breland. “We’re fine with going over there to England for the fight.”
A 27-year-old from Tuscaloosa, Ala., Wilder is coming off January’s second-round stoppage of Matt Greer, whom he floored three times during their fight in Mexico.
Prior to Greer, Wilder had used al right hand to flatten previously unbeaten Kelvin Price (13-1, 6 KOs) in December. The triumph over Price had followed one over previously undefeated Damon McCreary (14-1, 10 KOs) in September.
“There’s nothing like the day before, the morning of and night after you’ve claimed victory. The emotion, the excitement and adrenaline rush that I have is ready to explode out of me. I’m a starving lion that’s ready to eat,” said Wilder.
“On April 27 in Sheffield, England, my next meal will be served. On the menu: Audley Harrison. Bon appetite. For the many fans in England, Deontay ‘Bronze Bomber’ Wilder is coming. You’ve been waiting for this moment and now it’s here. I can’t wait to show you guys why I am the light and the way for this dark division.”
Harrison, 41, has won three consecutive fights, two of them by knockout, since falling by first-round stoppage to 6-foot-8 David Price, a fighter who suffered his first loss in 16 bouts last month by second-round knockout to 6-foot-5, left-hander Tony Thompson. Harrison is coming off last month’s first-round knockout of Claus Bertino.
“Deontay is a fast, dangerous puncher, but he has not been tested as a pro. I have lot of respect for him, so it’s not personal, but this is the door I must walk through,” said Harrison.
“Lose and it’s over, win and I’m in the top ten for sure, eligible to challenge for the world title. Biggest risk, for the biggest reward. It can’t get any better than that.”
Considered to be “the best heavyweight prospect by Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel “Manny” Steward before Steward’s death in October, Wilder served as a sparring partner for 6-foot-6 RING, IBF, WBA and WBO champion Wladimir Klitschko — who was trained by Steward — in advance of Klitschko’s unanimous-decision victory over 6-foot-7 Mariusz Wach in November.
“It’s two former Olympians and two of the big men in boxing. Harrison has fought the Who’s Who of the heavyweight division. He’s fought David Haye, he’s fought Price, and fought everybody out there. A lot of people say that Deontay hasn’t fought anybody. But remember, Deontay didn’t have that long of an amateur background, so I’m very content with where he is now and where he’s progressing to,” said Diaz.
“Both management and both Deontay Wilder’s Team and Golden Boy feel that now is the right time to start stepping it up, and we think that this is now the step in the right direction. Keep in mind, he’s making a statement. The United Kingdom isn’t coming to me, and the other top fighters, so I’ll go to them. I think that it’s a very strong message out to everybody that Deontay is now ready to surface. So now, he has to prove it in the ring.”
Khan (27-3, 19 KOs) will fight Diaz (40-7-1, 29 KOs) on a broadcast to be shown live in the afternoon and again on a delayed basis as part of the live Showtime telecast of a defense by RING, WBA and WBC junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia (25-0, 16 KOs) against former titleholder Zab Judah.
Garcia-Judah will happen later that evening at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Also on the Garcia-Judah card will be a defense by WBO middleweight beltholder Peter Quillin (28-0, 20 KOs) against Fernando Guerrero (25-1, 19 KOs).
Set to make their professional debuts on the card in England are 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Anthony Ogogo, of Great Britain, who signed with Golden Boy in December, and flyweight Haroon Khan, Amir’s younger brother. Ogogo will meet Kieron Gray (5-13-1, 1 KO), of Telford.
Also featured on the undercard will be former unified lightweight titleholder Nate “The Galaxxy Warrior” Campbell (36-10-1, 26 KO’s) of Jacksonville, Fla., against Manchester, England, prospect Terry “Turbo” Flannigan (19-0, 5 KO’s).
“It’s a great honor to be fighting in England,” said Campbell. “I’m in great shape and looking forward to returning to the lightweight division, and this fight will serve notice as to how serious I am.”
Flannigan is equally stoked.
“I’m looking forward to showcasing my talents against a former world champion in Nate Campbell,” said Flannigan. “This is the type of fight I have been waiting for, and I’m ready to move up to the next level and prove that I belong there. It’s going to be tough, but come the end of the fight, I have no doubt it will be my hand that is raised.”
British fight fans will also witness local rivals in a Lancashire-Yorkshire battle as former British champ Gary “Five Star” Sykes (23-3, 5 KO’s) puts his English super-featherweight crown on the line against Jon “2 Smokes” Kays (16-2-1, 4 KO’s).
“John Kays is a good fighter, so I will need to be at my best. I know what to expect, but I’m confident and believe that my experience is going to help me,” said Sykes.
“I’m coming off of a good winning streak and hope to put myself back into the mix for a British title shot by winning. I’m focused and am ready for this fight. I’m not giving up my English title to anyone.”
Kays is primed for the challenge.
“I’m going into this fight ready to give it everything. This is my time, and I won’t let anyone take it away from me,” said Kays.
“I’m super fit, have a good boxing brain and know I have the ability to cause him trouble. It won’t be easy, but to get that title I’m willing to do whatever it takes. It’s going to be a really exciting fight.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]