By Johnny Walker
Only a few months ago, it seemed to be all laid out ahead of British heavyweight giant David Price.
Although he was set to fight Tony Thompson–who’d twice lost to world champion Wladimir Klitschko, the first time with some resolve, the second time with a lack of enthusiasm–most of the talk when Price appeared on boxing shows in the UK with personalities like Steve Bunce was concerned with not with Thompson, but with just how soon Price, a giant of a man at 6’8″ tall who’d been knocking out opponents as fast as they could get in the ring, would be getting rid of those pesky Klitschko brothers and giving the UK a true heavyweight champ.
Tony “The Tiger” Thompson was an afterthought.
That all seems a long time ago now.
In a recent interview, Price admits that his career is in tatters, and that the many “friends” that were happy to go along for the ride when he was winning have vanished since his double losses to the American veteran southpaw.
“I do know that people will be writing me off because I know how people are and I know what boxing fans are like,” says Price.
“I’ve seen them do it with other fighters and they will definitely be doing it with me and not just boxing fans but pundits and writers. But that’s okay, because I know how it works. I know how it works exactly. You wouldn’t believe how many people I haven’t heard from after this fight. People I would normally hear from I haven’t heard a fucking peep off any of them. It’s a little bit disappointing but I find it funny. You see who is real and who’s not.”
Asked if anyone at all had at least called and offered a shoulder to cry on, Price was brutally honest:
“Erm, no. Not really, to be honest. I had a voicemail from David Haye the day after but I haven’t returned the call. I didn’t want to speak to anyone. Lennox gave me some words of advice the day after but it was just the people around me, really, my family and the lads in boxing. Other than that, no-one has jumped out and been there. To be fair, I’m aware of people being like that and it doesn’t really bother me because I know how people are and I don’t take it personally.”
Of course, as Price says, in boxing everything works in extremis, with reactions always being exaggerated depending on wins and losses. Today you’re a hero, tomorrow you’re a bum. As Price has learned, Tony Thompson is an tricky veteran lefty, and not the man you want to be working your way up with in the middle of your career. To jump from a tomato can like British con-man Audley Harrison into the ring with an elite heavyweight like Tony Thompson was a huge error on the part of Team Price.
“In hindsight it wasn’t the right opponent for me, Tony Thompson,” says Price.
“No one else was interested in fighting him. Wladimir Klitschko said [Thompson] had given him one of his hardest fights and because of the way things were going with me and I was knocking everyone out early, in the first fight everyone thought it would be a walk in the park and it proved otherwise….
“If you put it in terms of building, my career’s a wreck now, but it’s still got the foundations and the foundations are still solid and I can rebuild. It might take a little bit of time and I might have to accept that I’m going to be written off and whatever else but the foundations are there to rebuild on and I know I can do it. Without a doubt.”
One only need to think back to the things said about another David–Haye, this time–to realize Price is right. Many pundits had written Haye off entirely after his wide UD loss to Wladimir Klitschko, but following a KO of countryman Dereck Chisora and the signing of a very lucrative deal to fight up-and-comer Tyson Fury, Haye is right back in the heavyweight mix, and Price can certainly get there as well.
And while Thompson may have stopped the David Price express momentarily, the Liverpudlian thinks his American conqueror has bitten off more than he can chew by signing to meet top heavyweight Kubrat Pulev of Bulgaria on August 24.
“Pulev will beat him,” states Price, who negatively compares the Bulgarian’s well-planned rise to his own, more haphazard pro journey.
“Pulev’s had the same amount of fights as me but if you look at the opponents he’s fought and the experience he’s gained… So many of my first fights, they were worthless to me apart from putting money in my bank. In my first 10 fights fighting six-rounders mine were real knock overs and I should have been gaining experience then but I wasn’t because of the people who were getting put in front of me and if you look at Pulev he was fighting good opponents right the way through. He was fighting Matt Skelton in his fourth fight, Dominick Guinn, fighters like that. Pulev will beat Thompson, I think. I’ve sparred Pulev and I think he has got the style to beat Thompson….”
Reading between the lines, count on major changes in Camp Price when the giant Scouse does return.
This time, he’ll do things his way.