COLIN KENNA is sure he can beat Audley Harrison after spending the past week sparring with the Olympic champion.

Harrison provided ideal preparation for Kenna's next pro bout against Paul Buttery at Preston Guildhall this Friday night.

Buttery, a 17 stone giant, promises to be the Lordshill heavyweight's toughest fight to date.

But as a fellow southpaw Harrison - and Maidenhead's WBF European champion Michael Sprott - have both been able to effectively mimic his style.

Kenna said: "I have had a few sessions with Audley over the past week and I thought I did well with him.

"I handled him no problem and it gave me a great boost.

"Mind you it was quite a shock to see him close up.

"I knew Audley was huge, but I didn't realise quite how big until I saw him. His head was nearly touching the light shades!"

He added: "He has a very fast jab, but I was able to slip it and get inside and bob and weave.

"But his reach is so long it would be difficult to box him at a distance.

"I would be very confident if I ever faced him now that I have sparred with him. I think I would have the style to beat him.

"It wasn't serious sparring and we both probably saved a few tricks in case we meet next year!

"Michael Sprott was also very good as he imitated the southpaw style."

Both Kenna and Harrison are unbeaten after seven fights, although at 26, the Southampton man is five years younger.

A coach load of fans from the south are expected to make the trip up to Preston for Friday's big fight against Buttery.

The Lancashire-based fighter has lost only once and boasts a one-round stoppage win against Eamonn Glennon, a fighter Kenna beat on points.

But Dublin-born Kenna is coming into the fight off two impressive quick knock-outs victories.

After taking time out to get married during the summer, he now promises he is back in tip-top condition.

He said: "I feel in great shape and I am very confident.

"I am now at the stage where I ease off my training and I am just doing some pad work to stay sharp this week.

"I've seen a tape of Buttery and he is a big fellow. But I will just be looking to work the body and then maybe go for a finish.

"We will just have to see how it goes, but I think I will be quicker than him.

"He will probably have the crowd on his side and that will be a new experience - but I'm looking forward to it."

Kenna's manager Jack Bishop added: "Colin looks quite brilliant at the moment. The sparring over the past week has really given him a lift."

FOUR boxers from the thriving Golden Ring Club have breezed into the last eight of the national championships.

Fresh from their outstanding 13 wins out of 13 at a show in Southampton earlier in the month, Tony Hill, James Richardson, Ross O'Grady and Mark Atkins have all made it into the National Association of Boys Club quarter-finals.

And it could have been five after the unlucky Michael Baker was forced to pull out of the Bristol show with injury.

Coach Stuart Gill confirmed his fighters have now won 23 bouts on the trot.

"It is a fantastic achievement by all the lads. They work very hard and deserve their success."

Olympic champion and three times national champion Tony Hill (pictured) was defending an unbeaten record stretching a year in the Class B under-71kgs division against Welsh champion Patrick Stokes.

But Hill, 16, from Lordswood, showed all his undoubted class to destroy Stokes inside a round.

Fellow three-time national champion James Richardson, 17, from Millbrook was also in action in the Class C under-57kg class. He was boxing beautifully against the temperamental Shoiab Hussain from Swindon when caught with a sharp counter punch.

Richardson was not seriously hurt, but Hussain followed in with a punch while he was on the floor, leaving the referee no choice but to disqualify the Swindon boxer.

Fighting in the Class C under-71kg championship was Mark Atkins, who is fast developing a reputation as one of the most exciting boxers in Southampton.

He has been successful in several wars lately, including a thrilling win against Titchfield's Danny Cousins at Ikon nightclub, Southampton.

Atkins, who doesn't drink, smoke or eat chocolate, was up against big punching Welsh champ Gethin Davies.

Incredibly, Davies had won his last eight fights inside 30 seconds, but Atkins showed all his boxing skills to grind out an impressive four round win. Also making it through to the quarter-finals was Ross O'Grady in the Class A under-51kg event.

He also showed excellent boxing skills to out-point Welsh champion Ryan Evans.