By Kevin Francis, courtesy of The Daily Star
DAVID PRICE will still become a world champ-ion – despite suffering the first defeat of his professional career.
Who says so? None other than Tony Thompson, the veteran American who sensationally dumped Price on his backside in the second round of their contest in Liverpool on Saturday.
Before the fight, 41-year-old Thompson had told Starsport readers that he would teach Price a lesson that would then help him get to the top of the world.
The two-time world title challenger was as good as his word, with a shuddering punch to the side of his head sending Price to the canvas.
Thompson told me: “I told your readers just what I would do and it happened. What I have done to Price will make him a better fighter in the future.”
Thompson still has plenty of faith in the 29-year-old Scouser and said: “This was a bad loss for David, but he can learn from it.
“If he can take on board what he learned from this reversal, he will be fine. After all, unless you are Rocky Marciano, you are going to lose the odd bout or two.
“I beat David fair and square and, if he thinks about it, he can learn and improve and move on to become world heavyweight champion.”
Price hit the deck with a minute of the second round remaining after a right hook that perforated his ear drum and damaged his reputation as one of the most promising heavyweights around.
But he is still full of optimism and said: “I am still the British and Commonwealth champion and two or three fights down the line this fight will be ancient history and I will be back talking about world titles.
“I will probably go back to knocking people out in one or two rounds – one punch doesn’t change everything.
“I will come back stronger because what happened was a bit of a freak. I didn’t take a beating or get caught on my chin. It wasn’t that big a shot, it was where it caught me that did the damage. It was disorientating and that affected me.”
What will affect him more is the thought among any future opponents that he can be KO’d with a surprise punch.
One man who would love a chance to prove that theory is Audley Harrison, who Price despatched in 82 seconds last October.
Harrison, 41, defeated Derric Rossy in the second round of the Prizefighter International Heavyweight final at York Hall, then set his sights on moving back into the world title picture. Harrison said: “I want to fulfil my world title dream and, after this win, a rematch with David Price will be something I would relish.”
But Price will now have to reflect on a defeat that has put his hopes of having a world title tilt by the end of this year on the back burner.
He’ll bounce back under the management of Frank Maloney, who guided Lennox Lewis to becoming undisputed world champion.
Maloney collapsed after the fight and was taken to hospital after it was revealed that he had not eaten all day. He was later released.