There have been moments in the career of David Price when he has felt on the verge of great things, there have been times when he has thought it was all over. On Saturday night he faces Dereck Chisora at the O2 arena, London – lose and things could be close to the end, but win and he can call himself a contender once again.
Such is the state of the heavyweight division that many boxers are one good win from an opportunity. That was in Price’s thinking when he agreed a deal to face Chisora when Joseph Parker withdrew. After his win over Dave Allen in July, Price is not just there making up the numbers and he is certainly not just there for the money.
“It’s not a cash-out fight,” Price said. “It’s a step up from Dave Allen, but it’s not too much of a step up. I would have preferred more time to prepare for it, but I have to take opportunities when they come. I’m going in there to win. If I was just taking it as a cash-out fight, I would always regret it because it is a winnable fight.
“I’m optimistic about things. I’ve taken one fight (Sergey Kuzmin) at short notice in the past and I had been struggling with illness as well an injury. I just snatched at that one, but I weighed this one up. I asked myself if this is a fight I believe I can win in this situation and I do believe I can.”
At 36, Price would admit that he believed his hopes of boxing for the world heavyweight title were long gone. However, there is a logic that could see him get a chance if he can keep winning.
If Anthony Joshua beats Andy Ruiz Jr in their rematch in December, he will likely face demands to fulfil either the mandatory obligations of the WBO or IBF. If that leads to him vacating a belt, the winner of Saturday’s fight could see himself in with a chance of getting an eliminator.
“I’ve never paid much attention to what’s going on in the rankings because that has been so far away for me,” Price said. “It’s interesting where I could be if I win this fight.”
When Parker withdrew after being bitten by a spider, many saw Price – who was lined up to box next month – as the obvious replacement. He had to wait for that call, though.
“I saw that Parker had pulled out and thought I might get the call, but I didn’t and I looked at the list of names they were talking about and mine wasn’t on it,” he said. “I didn’t put my name forward, I thought if they want to offer me the fight, I will let them call me.
“It must have been a few days before I got a message through. We spoke about it and then we did a deal.
“I had the fight against Dave Allen in July and on August 15 I started training again full-time with my strength and conditioning coach. I’m happy with my fitness, it’s not ideal because three weeks’ notice means I have had less sparring, but that may work in my favour because I might be fresher.”
The careers of Price and Chisora have run parallel since their amateur days without there ever being much prospect of them facing each other.
“We sparred quite a bit about eight years ago, when he was fighting (Vitali) Klitschko and Tyson Fury, I went down to give him a hand,” Price said. “But that was a long time ago to the point where you can’t even remember what it feels like to spar him.
“The way Dereck fights, he is always in a tough fight. But someone who comes forward that much, if he can cover the distance, it takes the jab out of the equation and you have to be able to look after yourself up close – because he will get close.
“It would be great if it was as simple as use your reach and he won’t get near you, which I hear a lot of people say who don’t know much about the sport, but he will get close to me at some point and it is about me being able to handle that, which I will be able to. But the priority will be to use my advantages in the fight, keeping it long, getting him on the end of my jab, but there will be points where he does get close.
“Those hard fights have to take a toll at some point. But I’ve just got to expect the best Dereck Chisora, there are big things in store for the winner. He has had a couple of wins and is coming off a big knockout win, so I’ve got to expect the best to get the best out of myself.”
Price was in Madrid, celebrating Liverpool winning the Champions League, when Joshua lost to Ruiz. That was a result Price says did not really surprise him.
“It was only a matter of time until someone was going to beat him,” Price said. “That’s nothing against Anthony Joshua, it’s just heavyweight boxing. I would be more shocked if Tyson Fury were to lose, but because Joshua ia a fan-friendly kind of fighter and he will trade shots, there is always the risk that something like that could happen, so that’s why it wasn’t a massive shock to me.”
If there is one boxer who stands out in the heavyweight division for Price right now, it is Daniel Dubois, the 22-year-old British champion. He admits he turned down the chance to fight Dubois in the summer but believes he can become the best of the upcoming generation of fighters.
“Dubois looks like the real deal,” Price said. “He’s doing everything right and he is only going to get better. He’s definitely one to look out for.
“He’s a completely different generation from me, I’m 36. When I was in the Olympics, he would have been something like 10. That’s mad when you think about it. I did get offered the fight in the summer, but I didn’t see it as the right fit at that time, but I like the look of him.
“Joe Joyce is going to be a difficult man to beat, just because of his workrate and his overall toughness. He is going to take some stopping.”
Win tonight, though, and maybe Price might be in contention for a long overdue rematch with Fury. Price beat him as an amateur at Wythenshawe Forum in 2006. Fury then gave up his British and Commonwealth titles on the same day as a scheduled purse bid when Price was his mandatory contender. Since then, Fury went on to conquer the world, while Price’s career went the other way. Still, a Fury-Price match would still surely mean more than Fury’s recent fights against Tom Schwarz and Otto Wallin, even if few would give him a chance.
“We went along the same path for a bit and then I fell off the horse and after that he was on a completely different level to me,” Price said. “There are a lot of stories behind it all. I’ve had my ups and downs and he has had his problems outside the ring.
“It would be great if we could finish it by fighting each other, especially for me, as I am coming to the end of my career. We both have the same management. If I win this, yeah. We can start to talk about it again.”