Undefeated heavyweight contender David Price has heard it all before when it comes to Audley Harrison proclaiming he is in the mood for a proper boxing match. Haven’t we all?
Yet, despite Harrison persistently failing to live up to his own pre-fight hype through the years, British and Commonwealth titleholder Price (13-0, 11 knockouts) is once again prepared to give the 40-year-old Londoner, who now resides in California, the benefit of the doubt.
Rest assured, then, ahead of their showdown on Saturday in his home city of Liverpool, Eng., Price is taking the threat of Harrison very seriously. For with everything to lose and not a great deal to gain, the 29-year-old Merseysider has no choice but to expect his veteran compatriot to be up for the battle like never before.
Whether the 7,000 going to the Echo Arena this weekend agree with the local hero is an altogether different matter. Indeed, there is a feeling many of the fans will be there to mock Harrison, otherwise known as “Fraudley,” and witness him fall flat on the canvas for the last time in a desperately disappointing professional career.
That indifference stems mainly from his virtual no-show against then-WBA holder David Haye 24 months ago. Before being stopped in the third round, Harrison (28-5, 21 KOs) barely threw a punch – let alone one in anger. Price, though, is not allowing those past controversies surrounding the challenger to distract him.
“He has always managed to convince everyone, including me, about what he is going to do. But I think maybe he realizes that’s not going to work anymore and it’s why he now says he’s been living this lie for the last 12 years,” said the 2008 Olympic bronze medal winner. “It might be a bit late in the day for him to start changing things at the age of almost 41 but we will see on Saturday night.
“From the minute the fight was made, I said Audley would have to put up a fight to restore his reputation. Everybody remembers him for the Haye fight when he didn’t put up a fight. But I always thought that this time he would be giving it a real go — and that’s better for me and it’s better for the fans because they should then get to see a decent, entertaining fight.”
Price admits the impressive amount of tickets sold for his first defense of the two belts won in May, courtesy of a fourth-round KO against Sam Sexton, only adds to the increasingly hefty weight of expectation on his broad shoulders. But the 6-foot-9 powerhouse is adamant he can cope.
“There is always a chance I could let the heart rule the head. But I have to be completely professional on the night – be cold, be business-like and do the job,” he said. “I will let the crowd inspire me but at the same time I cannot allow myself to get impatient because Audley is going to be cagey.
“This is the fight I need to move onto bigger and better things but I am treating it like any other because I don’t want to feel any added pressure on the night – even if the fact we are going to see a sold-out Echo Arena means it is bigger than anything I’ve been involved with before.”
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