English heavyweight David Price is linking up with Adam Booth, long-time trainer of David Haye, as he attempts to rebuild his career following back-to-back defeats to veteran American Tony Thompson.
Previously unbeaten Price’s reputation as a title contender has been in tatters ever since being stopped by 41-year-old Thompson earlier this year – twice in the space of four months. Both crushing losses came in his own backyard of Liverpool. In February, he was stopped in round two. In July, he made it as far the fifth.
Now, having already split with trainer Franny Smith, the British and Commonwealth titleholder has decided to go back to the future somewhat by linking up with Booth’s Hayemaker gym. The 2008 Olympic bronze medallist was part of that stable when he first turned professional before, with Booth’s blessing, he joined forces with Lennox Lewis’ former manager, the recently-retired Frank Maloney.
However, despite the familiar surroundings of the south London set-up, Price (15-2, 13 knockouts) views the move as the dawning of a new era.
“It’s a fresh start,” said the 30-year-old Merseysider. “I can leave behind what has happened but know that I’ve learnt from it. I’ve got the passion back now and am looking forward to getting in shape and putting a few things right.
“To begin with I contacted a handful of world-class trainers and asked Adam if I could have a chat and perhaps get some advice. When I first turned pro I was signed by Hayemaker and only left because of the television situation at the time. Adam pointed me in the right direction after that – and advised me to go with Frank Maloney – and I’ve always valued his opinion.
“So, after a brief chat, I brought up the idea of him possibly training me and we decided to have a meeting. I assumed he wanted to see what kind of frame of mind I was in. We did a few sessions together just to see how it would work, and he then agreed to train me. I was made up about that because I know Adam is very selective when it comes to choosing fighters to work with.
“I’ve got a good feeling about this move, and truly believe Adam is the man to bring out my true potential.”
Booth, integral to Haye’s rise to the top of the cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions, has echoed those sentiments and is clearly optimistic that Price can be a genuine force.
“I’ve always seen massive potential in David and have always been interested in working with him on a full-time basis,” he said. “In addition to being a talented fighter, he’s also a very nice guy and someone who is good for the gym and good for me. I like his personality and I like what he stands for.
“But he’s also much more than a nice guy. He’s a big heavyweight, standing at six-foot-eight, and he punches harder than anyone I’ve ever taken on the pads. David has enough power in his right hand to knock out anybody in the heavyweight division. Now we need to add other things to his game to enable him to land his shots and once again feel comfortable in the ring.”
In addition to improving his boxing skills, Price accepts there are psychological hurdles for him to overcome. That is another reason for employing Booth.
“The mental side of the game is a big issue for me, and that’s something Adam spends a lot of time thinking about and working on,” said Price. “Even just sitting down and having a chat with him, I can tell we share a lot of the same ideas about the sport and about life. We’ve both got the same outlook, and this should make it very easy to gel. He has helped me get a few things off my chest recently, which has made me feel like the weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders. It’s a good feeling.
“Also, going with Adam means I’ll be working alongside other top-class fighters like David Haye and Andy Lee, and I’ll benefit from all the sparring partners that get brought over during training camps. This kind of world-class sparring can only bring out the best in me.
“Ultimately, I know I’ve made the right choice and I know this move will take me to that next level.”
Follow Harry Pratt on twitter: @gharrypratt