By Tris Dixon
LIVERPOOL heavyweight hope David Price still dreams of a shot at a world title.
The 35-year-old, who rocked Alexander Povetkin with a stunning left hook before succumbing to the Russian in three rounds in March, is waiting for an opponent on October 5 after Sean Turner pulled out of their Belfast clash.
Price was buoyed by his performance against Povetkin. He was possibly one punch from the biggest upset of the year and although the loss came from a clean knockout in round five, the 6ft 8in 22-5 (18) contender believes he has plenty left to offer and maintains his own ambitions.
“I’d still love to be able to challenge for a world title and I think the way the division is opening up, I think at some point the belts may break up because there are going to be that many mandatory obligations to be fulfilled and the opportunities might start appearing,” he said. “In the meantime, I want to do whatever steps it takes to get up to that level, which means maybe fighting for the British title again or perhaps some type of European title.”
He believes the Povetkin fight saw him turn an important psychological corner, showing him that he could enjoy the big stage rather than dread or fear it.
“The whole week, the occasion, the support I received the fight… I’d gone from being the next big thing to a bit of an outcast in British boxing in the fans’ eyes and on social media,” he explained.
“Even now it’s not much different but the support I got before the fight really, really warmed my heart and going into it and enjoying the big fight, big fight week build-up and then coming out as a gallant loser, sometimes you can win in defeat and I felt like I did that night. So, going forward the worst that can happen to me in a boxing ring has happened in any which way but I don’t want it happening again, I know there’s no guarantee it won’t but I can make better decisions and ideally I would have had another one or two fights before that [Povetkin] instead of a six-round fight a few months earlier and then going in against the number one contender. But I had to take the chance. It was too good an opportunity to turn down and I had nothing to lose.
“And, even now, every fight I go into I will look at it the same, there’s nothing to lose. I really believe that people are going to see the best of me in the next few years and for whatever reason it’s just took until now to see it, but that’s what I believe. And if it isn’t, say I stunk the gaff out in my next fight, I would probably walk away, but I do believe that there’s something left from what I’ve shown before which is why I’m still taking it seriously. I was offered to fight this other Russian on the [September 22] Joshua card and it was a good fight for good money but I decided against it because there was a fair chance I would have lost. It was a winnable fight, 50-50 in my eyes, but at this moment in time I need to be taking fights that are slightly more in my favour, so I can build a bit of momentum again. I need to put a few wins together instead of win one, lose one, win a couple and then jump in again. I need to find my form and build my momentum so when these fights do come I’ll be ready with both hands – so that’s why I made that decision.”
It was a bout with 12-0 (9) Sergey Kuzmin that Price rejected, opting to rebuild rather than role the dice.
“It’s a gamble because if I did slip up in one of my next fights it would be the end and I could have had a nice few quid in the bank which I probably wouldn’t see again,” he acknowledged. “But it was a calculated one where I sat down and thought about it properly and in the past I’ve been guilty of these type of things.”
It was the leap from Matt Skelton to Tony Thompson that proved too vast for Price, and a rematch with the American spawned a similar outcome.
“The first fight, I was really unlucky in that fight,” said the big Liverpudlian. “Everything that has really happened that hasn’t gone well since that fight it’s been like a snowball from what happened. I didn’t take getting beat too well and it stuck with me for a while and probably hindered me in a couple of other fights later on, so that one decision turned out to be a bad one early on but I can’t regret it because at the time we felt it was right.”
Whether the heavyweight titles do become more fragmented over the next few months remains to be seen, but Price said that from the three biggest names in the division, Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, it is a Joshua fight he would relish.
“Out of that lot I’d say AJ, because the man’s a modern day superstar and he’s changed the face of pro boxing,” said Price. “He’s selling out 90,000 stadiums and we’re probably not going to see that again in our lifetime. He may not even be able to sustain that many people going, the novelty might wear off where they’ve got this heavyweight superstar, so I think we should appreciate it while it’s here.”
Of course, Price is not the only Liverpool man with his eyes on a big fight. His friend, Tony Bellew, is hoping to land a contest with Oleksandr Usyk for all of the marbles at cruiserweight.
“I think it’s a great fight for Bellew to be honest,” said Price.
“[He has] nothing to lose. The only thing Tony has to lose is if he lost convincingly – where it was a one-sided beating, but I don’t for a million years think that would be the case. Although Usyk is an unbelievable fighter, Tony Bellew has got to be the best he’s faced in his pro career, in my opinion. Gassiev ran out of ideas after a round and he was bombarded by the volume of punches. I think Bellew’s technically better than Gassiev and he’s a counterpuncher as well and because of momentum…
“Tony Bellew has won his last 10. He hasn’t lost since Stevenson and every fight he’s winning it’s giving him more and more confidence. He must be feeling he’s unbeatable, which is why although we are saying he’s got nothing to lose in his mind he might be the favourite. His confidence will be sky high. If he’s taken David Haye’s power he might be able to take Usyk’s. It’s just the output of Usyk which is the main issue in the fight I think. It’s intriguing, but I think it’s a great fight.”