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 Last update:  1/25/2013       Read more by Thomas Gerbasi         
   
Building David Price
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By Thomas Gerbasi

Pop quiz. Whats the one thing you thought you would never hear out of the mouth of an unbeaten and highly touted heavyweight prospect with less than 20 fights?

How about this, from the mouth of Liverpools David Price on a media teleconference earlier this week?

Im not fighting someone whos guaranteed to make me look brilliant, said the Brit, referring to the man he meets at Echo Arena in his hometown on February 23, two-time world title challenger Tony Thompson.

Hes right. Thompson, despite being 41 and coming off a sixth round TKO loss to Wladimir Klitschko (his second defeat to the current heavyweight champ), is the type of fighter that has the style that can spoil a perfect record or at least end a streak of knockout wins by delivering a defensive-minded performance that will garner more boos than cheers. Price knows this, but he took the fight anyway. In fact, its the kind of fight he demanded from promoter Frank Maloney.

This is a fight that maybe I would have looked at three fights down the road, but after his last fight David sat down with me and said Frank, I really want a test; I want to be put in with someone. And I admire that, said Maloney, who once guided Lennox Lewis to the heavyweight crown. We looked at a few opponents, we sat with his trainer, and eventually we came up with Tony.

Its a gutsy call for the 29-year-old Price, an Olympic Bronze medalist in the super heavyweight division who in just 15 fights has got an entire legion of boxing fans both in the UK and abroad excited about his potential for world title honors. ESPN.com recently named him Prospect of the Year for 2012, and as fans in the United States moan about the lack of serious up and comers in the heavyweight ranks, Price is fighting in big domestic fights and making all the right moves at precisely the right time.

And thats why a year from now, hell be ready for a shot at the men at the top most likely the reigning Klitschko brothers while the American contingent continues to flounder. According to Thompson, who was also on the conference call with Price, it isnt a question of talent, its the fact that the fighters at the top now are just better.

The Americans had been dominating the heavyweight division for so long and now that were on the bottom, we cant fathom that another guy from another country could actually be the best in the world, which Wladimir is, said Thompson. So its not a knock on American heavyweights. We have some very good heavyweights which I wish would fight each other more. It just so happens that none of them is as good as the best guy in the world, who happens to be from the Ukraine. I think its just a little bit of American arrogance to think that he cant be the best.

Its also a case of American heavyweights not being moved correctly. Here, the top prospects usually get fed 20-25 easy marks before getting put in with someone who actually has a chance to win the fight, and often, that prospect will then get exposed, or at the very least discouraged from being as gung ho toward the sport as he was when he was blasting opponents out in a round or two.

Price, while getting his share of overmatched foes early on, was jumped up to another level fairly quick. Fights against journeymen like Raphael Butler, unbeaten fellow prospects like Tom Dallas, and domestic rivals like John McDermott and Sam Sexton put him in the spotlight and fighting for British titles, and with his blast outs of big names Audley Harrison and Matt Skelton in the last two of four 2012 wins, it was clear that he was ready for a step up, and Price knew it.

I was an Olympic medalist and there was a lot of pressure on me, but it was good to be under the radar, and Frank let the leash off when the time was right, said Price of his development.

Is it too much too soon though? Not according to the six-foot-eight, 250 pounder, who did admit to a little mental burnout leading up to the Skelton fight.

The trouble with the Skelton fight is I had a massive buildup to the fight previous against Audley Harrison and got a big result, and I didnt get the required amount of time to enjoy the win and switch off mentally, said the 29-year-old. I had to get straight back into the gym and concentrate on Matt Skelton straight away. Physically it wasnt a problem, but mentally, the Skelton fight was a little bit difficult to get up for. But I still had to get in and do a job.

He did, becoming just the third man to stop Skelton. Then it was time to enjoy the holidays and recharge his batteries.

I took a little bit of a break, three weeks off, a nice little holiday away with my family, and that was the turning point for me, said Price. I came back to find out that Im fighting a good fighter in Tony Thompson and that was all the motivation I needed. Im fresh, Im enjoying my training, and Im excited about the fight.

Price may be most excited about testing himself against a fighter who, as he pointed out, isnt tailor-made for him to look good against.

Im fighting a tall southpaw whos a good defensive fighter, he said. Its gonna be a fight where I have to answer a lot of questions, I think.

At least someone is asking them though, and asking them of someone willing to answer. Thats the difference between Price and so many of his peers. They only get asked the tough questions when its a big fight, the bright lights are on, and people have paid good money to see something that very often doesnt get delivered. David Price only has 15 pro fights, he has never gone more than seven rounds in any one of those bouts, yet hes going in with a seasoned vet who will probably show him things hes never seen in a ring before.

But thats what real fighters do. More importantly, its what realistic fighters do. Guys like Price know that not every fight will be a first round knockout, and better to deal with that reality now than in a world title fight that youre not prepared for because youve been coddled up to that point.

The way I look at it, Im only gonna get one shot at this game, and it would be a shame to waste it, said Price. I never cheat in training or anything like that, so Im convinced Ill be okay to do the rounds. Im only human. At the end of the day its impossible for me to knock everyone out, so Tony could be the man who I cant get out of there, so it will be up to me to use my boxing for 12 rounds.

Its impossible not to respect that attitude. As for Maloney, hes well aware of the kind of fighter hes working with.

I hate to think who hes gonna name after this fight if hes successful, he said with a chuckle.

Tags: David Price , Tony Thompson , Price-Thompson , Price vs Thompson


 

 User Comments and Feedback (must register to comment)

comment by BennyST, on 01-26-2013
[QUOTE=Keysor]"Is it too much too soon?" Is this writer having a laugh?! No need to worry on that score as Price won't be going anywhere near a world title until the Klits have gone. Whenever you hear Price talk all he bangs on about is 'long learning processes' and about being at least '12-18 mo...

comment by Skittlez, on 01-26-2013
[QUOTE=ShamrockXpress]I'd like to see pricey step it up, theres a lot of hype round him in England, especially here in Liverpool, he looks like the business, but so did the Michael grants of this world until they stepped in with someone as big as them who could punch, wouldn't mind seeing him fig...

comment by anonymous2.0, on 01-25-2013
The article picture's filename should be: David_Price_Ejaculation_Face.jpg

comment by NoLove, on 01-25-2013
Price is a knockout waiting to happen. Look how easy the last guy he beat was able to get close and land punches in the first round. And his chin is terrible, which is expected for a man of his size.

comment by pedrito, on 01-25-2013
[QUOTE=SaintGeorge]David Price's chin will stop him from winning a world title. You can quote me on that. Didn't Cammarelle put him down 6 times in one fight?[/QUOTE] With this logic, explain to me how Wladimir has been so dominant for so long.

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