by Boxing Insider Staff
Lennox Lewis, who is the last man to hold the heavyweight title on an “undisputed” basis, says that he thinks he knows who the next man to qualify for that distinction is.
And it is a countryman.
That made news in Great Britain, where Lewis told The Independent that David Price, the mammoth heavyweight from Liverpool who has not yet tasted defeat, could one day reign supreme in what had once been boxing’s glamour division.
“He is potentially the best of the current heavyweight crop,” Lewis told the reporter. “It’s taking a long time to find another undisputed champion, but David could be the one.”
Price, who is 15-0 as a pro with thirteen knockouts, is an imposing figure at 6’8″ and generally around 245-250 pounds. He will have to summon up, in all likelihood, more resourcefulness than he ever has as a pro as he steps in against two-time world title challenger Tony Thompson on Saturday. He will certainly have the hometown Liverpool crowd very much in his favor, but some may question whether he is taking too big a bite of the apple too early.
Based in his first-round KO of Audley Harrison back in October, Price certainly had to move up in class. And for someone who, by his own admission, “really didn’t like getting punched” when he first put gloves on, he is going to be facing more foes from this point forward who are going to test him.
Last January Price scored a one-round knockout over John McDermott to capture the English heavyweight crown, and then added the vacant British and Commonwealth titles in his next start, as he took out Sam Sexton in four. Then came the Harrison fight, and just six weeks after that he knocked out former Commonwealth champion Matt Skelton. But Harrison is 41 and Skelton is 46.
Thompson, the southpaw from Washington, D.C., is 41 years old, but he would seem a little more spry than the others at this point. He last fought in July, getting stopped in six rounds by Wladimir Klitschko in a bout for WBO, IBF and WBA heavyweight titles. That was a rematch of a fight from four years before, when Thompson went to the eleventh round before being stopped.
No matter what level of experience his opponent has, Price knows that he goes into every fight with the one weapon that can be an equalizer, a very powerful right hand, which can do damage whether it is thrown straight, as a hook (just ask Sexton) or in an uppercut. And he can get the job done with one shot. It’s just a matter of landing it. Price sometimes comes out pawing with the left hand, looking to measure his opponent for purposes of hitting home with that right, but there are also times when he throws the jab in earnest. When he does that, it can be an extremely effective part of his arsenal.
As far as giant heavyweights in the United Kingdom are concerned, Price certainly has a rival in the person of Tyson Fury, the 6’9″ native of Manchester who is unbeaten in 20 fights, though not the possessor of quite as much natural power. Fury has continuously “called out” Price, as fighters often do, but he pulled himself out of purse bids for a prospective British heavyweight title bout. Granted, Fury may have been looking for something that could be even bigger down the road between himself and Price, but he also has to defeat Steve Cunningham in April at Madison Square Garden if that bout is going to maintain all its luster.
A bronze medalist in Seoul five years ago, Price may be able to jump ahead to bigger things; i.e., a bout with either Klitschko brother for all the marbles, if he gets by Thompson. But even if he does that, will he be ready for THAT challenge?
He figures his big right hand makes it so.