David Price is the first to admit that 2012 was something of an enigma in his climb up the world heavyweight ladder.
The British and Commonwealth titleholder remained undefeated, blowing all four of his opponents out of the ring in no time at all. But in hindsight it was all a little too straightforward for 29-year-old Price as he attempts to showcase his undoubted talents to a wider audience.
That’s why he plans for this year to be very different, starting Saturday in his home city of Liverpool, England, where he will face the threat of vastly-experienced American Tony Thompson (36-3, 24 knockouts) in a 12-round non-title contest.
Thompson, even at 41, is clearly a level or three above any of Price’s most recent victims — Matt Skelton, Audley Harrison, Sam Sexton and John McDermott. And you get the impression the 6-foot-8 contender from Merseyside is bracing himself for his most serious examination to date, yet also positively relishing the challenge and opportunity.
“Last year was probably my coming-out party in British boxing,” said Price (15-0, 13 KOs) on Box Nation, which will broadcast the action from the Echo Arena. “I had four good wins against four decent domestic opponents who really should have tested me more than they did. I just proved that I am above that level.
“It put me out there a bit and it’s given me the platform to build upon. I think if I’d struggled in any of those fights I might have had a few questions in my own head about how far I could go. But the way I dealt with them has given me a lot of confidence for 2013.
“Tony Thompson is a tough fight. He’s definitely a step up in class. He shared a ring with Wladimir Klitschko only six months ago. It wasn’t a voluntary defense, either. Tony got himself into a position to take that fight.
“He’s had some good wins throughout his career and the fact he was fighting at world level not long ago shows he is still close to his prime. It’s not a fight we picked thinking, ‘This will be a soft touch.’
“He’s a 6-foot-6 southpaw. It’s not exactly a walk in in the park. He can make anyone look bad. It’s up to me to make sure I look good and do a number on him. If I can do that it will propel me to the next level.”
And, of course, take Price nearer to a title shot, possibly at the all-conquering RING, WBA, WBO and IBF champ Wladimir Klitschko, although the English star reckons he would still be a couple of contests from being completely prepared for that ultimate goal.
“I can almost taste it,” said Price. “I am not knocking on the door just yet but I will be after this and maybe one or two more fights before the end of the year. I can definitely smell the world title scene and will be a part of that soon.
“The reason we are building my career this way is when I get there I want to be capable of taking that title. I don’t want my number to be up. People only remember fighters who win titles. When I fight for it, I want to win it and then stay there.”
Photos / Scott Heavy-Getty; Lars Brown-Bongarts/Getty