MANCHESTER, England – David Haye stopped Audley Harrison in the third round to retain the WBA heavyweight title Saturday.
Haye proved too strong for 39-year-old Harrison, knocking him down in the third round and prompting referee Luis Pabon to stop the first all-British heavyweight title bout in 13 years to prevent further punishment.
Haye promised to spoil's Harrison's first major title bout a decade after winning the heavyweight gold medal in the Sydney Olympics, and he delivered quickly.
Harrison, bitter at Haye for ignoring him at his lowest point after helping Haye rise to the top, was more than 40 pounds heavier and two inches taller than Haye, but it didn't matter to the champion.
Harrison barely brushed Haye's in a cautious and opening and took more than a minute to even throw a punch as the first round ended in jeers from the sellout crowd of 20,000 at MEN Arena.
The second round was marginally better as Haye landed a couple of hits on Harrison, who looked fearful and hesitant.
Haye finally unleashed at the start of the third round, knocking down Harrison, who took an eight count.
When Haye landed more unanswered heavy blows, Pabon moved in to end a lopsided contest.
Harrison left to more boos, his future uncertain after a performance and a career that never lived up to his pre-match hype.
"I was patient," Haye said. "I knew the boos would turn into cheers.
"I put a lot of money on the third round and lot of my friends and family did. I didn't want to let them down by doing him too early."
Haye has set his sights on a unification bout with the Klitschko brothers. Wladimir, the IBF champion, looks a more likely option before WBC champ Vitali.
"Next year I promise that fight is going to happen," Haye said. "I know there is nowhere else for them guys to go."