David Price blasted 2000 Olympic gold medalist Audley Harrison in one round last October. The undefeated 2008 Olympic bronze medalist had no problem with Harrison’s height, reach or left-handed stance, but he expects a much tougher fight against American veteran Tony Thompson, who is also a tall southpaw.
Undefeated British heavyweight prospect David Price does not do overtime and the 6-foot-8 colossus is set to cause more destruction when he meets former two-time title challenger Tony Thompson on Feb. 23 at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.
Price (15-0, 13 knockouts), at 29 years of age, is approaching his prime and the timing seems perfect for his first assignment at the world level. Thompson has only lost three times in 39 fights, with two of those defeats coming to RING heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko, and the 6-foot-5 southpaw from Maryland should ask questions of the explosive Brit.
Over the last 12 months Price has bashed his way through a string of domestic foes, scoring impressive stoppages of John McDermott, Sam Sexton, Audley Harrison and Matt Skelton. On route he has captured the British and Commonwealth crowns but now has crosshairs locked on his ultimate goal – the heavyweight championship of the world.
Promoter Frank Maloney, who helped guide Lennox Lewis to super stardom, believes that Price is the best big man on the planet. The 2008 Olympic bronze medallist has athleticism, punch variety and follows a bursting left jab with a straight right hand from hell. Like Riddick Bowe before him he also possesses the rare attribute of being a big man who can fight well on the inside.
A large section of the British media believe that Price could very well be the future of the glamour division although fellow British star, Tyson Fury, would contest that claim in a hurry. Fury, THE RING’s No. 10-rated heavyweight, can match Price, both verbally and for size, but thus far the two have failed to reach an agreement to settle the argument in the ring.
RingTV.com spoke to Price about Thompson, Fury and the ultimate prize.
RingTV.com: How is training going at the moment?
David Price: Preparation is going great. We try to raise the bar in every camp and it must be going well because I’m tired of training. I’m exhausted during my rest time so I know I’m putting the work in.
RTV: Tony Thompson is the first highly rated American opponent that you will have faced. How is your focus and motivation for this fight in comparison to the domestic encounters you’ve taken part in over the last twelve months?
DP: No disrespect to my domestic opposition but, with the exception of the Audley Harrison fight, I’ve had to force myself. With this fight I’m more focussed and motivated because I know Thompson is a world-class fighter and if I make a statement that can only be good for my career.
RTV: What are Thompson’s best assets?
DP: He’s got good timing and he’s a tall southpaw with long arms which makes him difficult to catch cleanly. Those are his main assets but he also has a good knockout ratio (67 percent) so he has real pop in his punches. There is a lot to Thompson but I want to concentrate on what I’m capable of doing.
RTV: The last time you faced a southpaw (Audley Harrison in October 2012) the fight was over inside two minutes. A lot of fighter’s dislike taking on lefties but in your experience what works best against them?
DP: Ring craft is important against a southpaw because you have to control which direction they move in and walk them on to the righthand. You need to keep your left foot outside their right foot and establish the jab. I don’t over complicate things although admittedly they can be difficult. I spoke to Sugar Ray Leonard a few months ago and he told me if you ever have a left hander in trouble then take them out because they’re a nightmare. I actually don’t mind it although I’m a tall boxer and I think it would be more difficult taking on a southpaw with a height advantage.
RTV: You’ve been known to fly out of the blocks fast and when you fight it’s a case of “don’t blink.” With Thompson’s experience at world level do you foresee another quick night?
DP: I don’t know how quick it will be but I’ll be looking to finish the job inside the distance so that I can make a statement. I’ll be prepared to go twelve rounds but the way I fight is to look for the big shot and hurt an opponent. I don’t always look for the knockout but if there’s an opportunity to follow up on a hurt fighter, and finish them off, then that’s what I’ll do.
RTV: Due to your hitting power you have never gone beyond seven rounds in your career. Is that always at the back of your mind or are you confident that you can complete the 12-round distance?
DP: I’m confident that I can make it through a 12-round fight with no problem. I train as hard as anyone and I’ve completed that distance many times in the gym. I would just have to do it under the lights but when I have fought 12 rounds, during training, I’ve used multiple sparring partners who have come in fresh. It wouldn’t be a problem but if I can avoid it and keep knocking people out then so be it.
RTV: Is there the temptation to dispose of Thompson quicker than Wladimir did?
DP: There isn’t but if I catch him early then I’ll go for it. Wladimiris the heavyweight champion of the world whereas I’m coming in with 15 fights so I don’t really worry about comparisons. Still, with my mentality I know that I make a statement by doing a better job, so don’t rule it out.
RTV: Looking ahead, is it important for you to get an opportunity against a Klitschko, before they retire, or would a world title win of any type be sufficient?
DP: I don’t care who I get in the ring (with) as long as I win a world title. The Klitschko brothers will go down as two of the greatest heavyweights of all time but my goal is to become champion and I have no preference on who I take the title from.
RTV: Should you come through against Thompson what do you see transpiring in 2013 for David Price?
DP: The ideal scenario would be another two fights against world level opposition before going for the title late this year or early next year. There are big fights out there against the likes of Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora so one of them, or both, would be perfect.
RTV: It remains a fantasy match up at the moment but if Tyson Fury and yourself cross paths what happens?
DP: I believe that I win the fight by knockout and if I didn’t win early on then I’d beat Tyson up over a period of time. I’m just a different animal from Tyson Fury and that’s why I want the fight to prove what would happen. I have betterall roundability and knockout power, which he doesn’t have, and I’ll beat him in every department. Hopefully, we can come to an agreement, at some stage, and the fight takes place.
RTV: Can I have a prediction on the fight with Thompson? What do you see unfolding?
DP: I see me winning this fight by knockout but I will be prepared to go 12 hard rounds because Thompson is a good fighter and he’s not coming to lie down. He’s coming to win and prove he’s still in the mix. I’ll stick my neck out and say that I will win by knockout in my first fight at world level.
Photos / Andrew Yates-AFP, Scott Heavey-Getty Images, Dan Istitene-Getty Images
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and contributes to various publications. He compiles the boxer profiles and fight breakdowns for Frank Warren Promotions official fight programmes. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing