Undefeated heavyweight contender David Price will face fellow Englishman Audley Harrison on Oct. 13 at Liverpool Echo Arena, Merseyside, as part of a five-fight deal with Box Nation TV.
The 29-year-old British and Commonwealth titleholder, managed and promoted by Frank Maloney, had been fighting on Sky Sports while making his so-far perfect climb toward the division’s elite.
However, Maloney claims Sky attempted to force him to share the promotion rights with Matchroom rival Eddie Hearn, leading to an acrimonious parting of the ways and a surprise new partnership with Frank Warren’s dedicated boxing channel.
Fair to say, judging by his stinging attack on Sky and, in particular, Hearn, the well-respected Maloney is far from happy.
“Without competition, it becomes a monopoly, and one man thought he was going to control boxing. Thankfully, we have been able to stop that due to other channels being out there, keeping boxing fair and competitive,” said Maloney, who made his name looking after former undisputed heavyweight holder Lennox Lewis.
“Frank Maloney promotions have signed a deal with Box Nation. We will have five main fights on a Saturday night featuring David Price, the best heavyweight prospect out there in today’s market – and that includes David Haye or anyone else.
“For some unknown reason, Sky did not want me to promote David (Price) in my own right. They wanted me to agree to work and sign with Eddie Hearn, which I refused to do.
“I remember Eddie Hearn telling me that David couldn’t fight, that he had a glass chin and he didn’t want to sign him. That’s when I signed David, and I’ve taken him to this level, and we’re going even farther.
“Now, all of a sudden, that he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, you’ve got Eddie Hearn making unnecessary offers to David through other channels and fighters talking to him, trying to throw a spanner in the works.
“Eddie Hearn’s come in having done no apprenticeship. What he knows about boxing you could put on the back of a postage stamp, and I could write my name on it and sign David Price’s name underneath it. That’s my opinion.”
Fortunately for Maloney, Price (13-0, 11 knockouts) clearly feels he is in safe hands – even if a match-up against a 40-year-old flop veteran such as Harrison (25-5, 21 KOs) will do absolutely zip for his standing on the world scene.
It is pretty much a no-win night, yet Price is putting a brave spin on his first title defense, talking up the fact it involves two Olympic medal winners from Great Britain. Harrison took gold in 2000, Price a bronze at Beijing eight years later.
“For me, whichever way you look at it, it’s a big fight,” said the 6-feet7 Liverpudlian. “Two big heavyweights, one on the way up, the British and Commonwealth champion, the other one a former world title challenger and European champion. We’re both Olympic medallists, and it’s Olympic year. It’s got all the ingredients.
“Audley did the business in Sydney and won gold. I could have won gold, I had the ability, but it didn’t work out for me. I’ve had to put up with the disappointment of only getting bronze ever since, and that’s made my drive and hunger stronger. Audley Harrison didn’t have that hunger. I’ve got it.”
If Price needs a reminder of how not to blow a promising career, then Harrison’s 12 years in the ring as a professional provide it.
“When he turned professional, he tried to do too many things at once, and his performances suffered as a result,” Price said. “Then people started getting on his back, and he came under a lot of criticism, and it affected him.
“He has definitely underachieved even though he has fought for a world title. That’s something to take note of as a young professional. I am doing things my way, but he has shown the way not do it.”
Harrison launched his latest comeback bid in May, scoring a fourth-round knockout over unfancied Ali Adams. It was his first outing since losing badly to then-WBA titleholder Haye back in November 2010.