You don’t need to tell Tony Thompson or David Price that one punch changes everything.
On February 23rd, at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England, Thompson entered a prize ring as cannon fodder, while the unbeaten Price, a revered local hero, simply turned up to put another notch on the gun.
A little over five minutes later Price was on the canvas, his face a mask of pain and confusion after absorbing a short right hook to the head. The Olympic medalist was in no position to continue and the fight was stopped at 2:17 of the second round.
Horrified local fans looked on in stunned silence, while Thompson screamed down at press row derisively in reaction to being overlooked by the media.
In the immediate aftermath Price endured harsh criticism while bombastic contender Tyson Fury sent more tweets in a week than he normally would in a month. None of them carried a get well soon message for his stricken British rival.
Meanwhile, Tony Thompson basked in the sunlight of his most famous win, awaiting the next assignment. And here we are.
To some people’s mild surprise Price has exercised an immediate rematch clause and enough money was on the table for Thompson to return to the scene of the crime for a chance to do it all over again on July 6.
Price has sourced former heavyweight champion of the world Lennox Lewis to lend a hand with strategy, but the Hall of Fame legend will not be throwing the punches when the bell rings, and Thompson is far from fazed.
RingTV spoke to Thompson about the first fight and his quest to produce a similar result in the rematch.
RingTV.com: You are rumored to be in fantastic condition ahead of the rematch. What have you been doing differently in this camp that you perhaps neglected last time?
Tony Thompson: It wasn’t necessarily neglect but there were some health issues prior to the first fight, which I have addressed. There was a stomach problem which was controllable with antibiotics but it gave me a bloated look. For this fight I have trained extremely hard and that will be noticeable when I enter the ring.
RTV: You weighed in at a career heaviest 262lbs for fight one which led many people to believe that you were simply making up the numbers. Did that give Price and his team a false sense of security?
TT: I’m not sure but I’ve been heavy before and still performed. I can’t comment on what people were expecting but I don’t come into any fight to lay down.
RTV: Price got off to a good start in round one of the first fight. How did your rate his power in the short time you were in there?
TT: I didn’t really think he got off to a great start. Price didn’t land with anything significant and I blocked the only flurry he threw, so I had no real chance to assess his power. You don’t want to get hit by anyone in the heavyweight division but it’s my punching power that’s the issue because I’m the one with a second-round knockout. Still, if you let Price land then he is a crisp puncher, who could do damage.
RTV: Can you expand on the opening you exploited to score the knockout in the first fight? What mistake did Price make?
TT: We saw that Price lingers in the pocket after punching and felt that we could take advantage of that. That’s what happened! He threw a little combination, stood in front of me and I was able to attack and end the fight.
RTV: What were your thoughts on the Price team immediately exercising the rematch clause after such a devastating defeat?
TT: That’s what fighters do and I tell everyone that. A real fighter wants to fight the guy who beat him, like when I lost to Klitschko I wanted to fight him again the next day. It doesn’t surprise me that Tyson (Freudian slip), I mean David, wanted to come back and fight me again immediately.
RTV: Price has brought Lennox Lewis into his camp. What changes do you foresee in his game plan this time around?
TT: He will be a little more responsible defensively because you can’t go in there rushing everybody and expect to score quick knockouts. Lennox will make sure he’s a little smarter and make small adjustments here and there.
RTV: Lewis was known for displaying immense patience during his peak years. Do you foresee a chess match where Price attempts to use distance, rather than take chances?
TT: It won’t be a chess match because I won’t allow a chess match. It’s going to be a knockout and it’s going to be devastating, so he won’t have time to do any of that.
RTV: You arrived in Liverpool recently. How have you been received?
TT: The fans have been really good. They’re behind David, which is to be expected, but the local fans have been very respectful of me and my crew. They’ve introduced themselves and had pictures taken and there’s a lot of interest in this fight.
RTV: The David Haye/ Tyson Fury saga looks positive again. What are your thoughts on the fight and who wins if it comes off?
TT: It’s a good fight and it presents Haye with a great chance to expose the clown that is Tyson Fury. That’s what Fury is, he’s a side show and David will expose him. I would love to fight Tyson Fury but he would never take the chance against someone of similar size who has skills. He wants to fight smaller guys on a similar skill level and make himself out to be the next big thing but he’s nothing. If he fights someone of my size and ability he loses quickly.
RTV: Another victory over Price would be huge for your career. Would you immediately target a world title shot?
TT: I would love a title shot. I would like to take on (Alexander) Povetkin or Vitali (Klitschko) if he’s going to continue. That is where I want to go right now because these up and comers are not on my level. I want to fight someone at championship level.
RTV: What do you foresee happening the rematch? Will history repeat itself?
TT: Price is going to see a whole new Tony Thompson and I will show him things he’s never seen before. I’m going to make him fight and make him do things he doesn’t want to do. I want to make him as uncomfortable as possible.
Tickets for David Price vs. Tony Thompson II – “Redemption” can be purchased from www.frankmaloney.com. British fight fans can tune into BoxNation via Sky Channel 437 or Virgin Channel 546. Visit www.boxnation.com to subscribe.
Photos: Alex Livesay-Gettyimages; Lars Baron-Bongarts/Gettyimages
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and contributes to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing