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Classic Irish Boxing: April 2003: Corbett tells BBC: “dump Audley [Harrison] for me”

Classic Irish Boxing- April 18th, 2003
by Alex McGreevy

Darren Corbett has called upon the BBC to dump Audley Harrison and turn its cameras on his comeback to the ring. The one-time Irish, IBO and Commonwealth cruiserweight champion confirmed his return with a fourth round stoppage of Clint Johnson at the Ulster Hall last weekend.

With American promoter Kevin Dever at his side, Corbett is planning to land a world title shot before the end of the year, with his prime target being WBU light-heavyweight champion Tony Oakey.

While Corbett prepared for his first fight at the Ulster Hall since losing a British title shot against Bruce Scott in 1998, a cold reception was given to the show from local television outlets. But after watching a recording of his fight, and the much talked about Northern Ireland Area title clash between Daffyd Carlin and Gary Hamilton, Corbett believes TV lost out. “The BBC needs to dump Audley Harrison and come on board with me,” said Corbett.

“If they want action and atmosphere they won’t get it with Harrison.

“They (BBC) can bum and blow about him and Howard Eastman but neither of them has entertained. No matter how hard they push Harrison, he will not convince me that he’s a TV fighter. “I’m ideal for TV. It’s not just the BBC that has a problem. Local TV showed no interest in showing the Ulster Hall bill and that’s denying the people here a chance to see the fights.

“Gary Hamilton’s fight with Daffyd Carlin was one of the most exciting ever seen at the Ulster Hall. I’ve spoken to people who have watched great fighters and fights all over Ireland and they all agree that it was a fight which will go down in history. “The atmosphere at the Ulster Hall was amazing. I couldn’t believe the crowd that turned out to see me, especially considering I had not fought there since 1998 and that my career had gone through a difficult patch.”

While he fights for small screen recognition, Corbett is also contending with the reality that he needs top name fighters more than they need him. It was once the reverse but today he’s making challenges rather than selecting challengers. Top of his list is Tony Oakey but even after challenging him face-to-face while at ringside for Wayne McCullough’s recent WBO featherweight clash against Scott Harrison, Corbett is not convinced the Englishman will accept his offer.

“Oakey is the one I want before the end of the year. It would be a great battle, two hard-hitting men going at it. “He’s a tough little fighter and it would be a good fight for me because I’m convinced I can beat him.

“But I have to accept that when a guy like him is backed by the likes of Frank Maloney (promoter) he’s not likely to entertain me. “I need him more then he needs me. I am too much of a risk for champions to take on. I can’t even get a sparring session because of my previous reputation of knocking guys out in the gym.”

With layers of lazy days shed from his waist, Corbett certainly looked a different man as he entered the ring last weekend. Inside it, he was a different fighter. After ridding himself of ring rust in the first two rounds, he began finding his range with a jab he had neglected in the past. The big right hand is still big but the most notable improvement in his armour was the short right hook, the punch that eventually floored his opponent. “After watching the fight again I was shocked by how rusty I looked in the first two rounds,” added Corbett.

“But by round three I was finding my range. It was hard enough getting to grips with fighting in the Ulster Hall again but now I’m back and people will see the vast improvements next time.” It is expected Corbett will return to action in June at the Ulster venue but may take on contests in England before then.


Jonny Stapleton contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: