Cast your minds back 12 months previous to now and this story would be a totally different one. An unbeaten heavyweight prospect and bronze medal Olympian of 2008, David Price looked set for the very top of world boxing.
That was until Tony Thompson came along. With a 36-3 record, ‘Tiger’ was supposed to be a stepping stone onto greater things. The veteran American refused to read the script, beating Price twice inside six months to completely derail the fledgling career of the Liverpudlian. Those bouts also took place at the Echo Arena, with a partisan, sold-out home crowd stunned at what they had seen.
After the second crushing defeat, Price looked a man severely out of his depth. Aside from knocking Thompson down in the second round, the 6”9’ Scouser failed to stamp much authority on the fight and looked as though he’d been 15 rounds when referee Marcus McDonnell stopped the bout in the fifth.
Though hindsight is a wonderful thing, jumping straight back in with Thompson proved to be a disaster. Whether or not it was a poor promotional decision by the now retired Frank Maloney, Price was keen on the rematch and failed convincingly second time around after a rather unlucky stoppage in the first fight, when the ‘Tiger’ perforated his eardrum with a slap to the ear in round two.
The 30-year-old belongs on the world stage after clearing up at domestic level, though I think the American was underrated by way too many people. After all, he had lost two of his three fights to Wladimir Klitschko and had been knocking around at world level for many years.
Since those disastrous nights in Liverpool, Price battled with depression as he came to terms with the defeats. However, with a clear mind moving forward, he has made some excellent career choices which will make him emerge once more onto the world scene.
First there was the switch in trainer from long-term partner Franny Smith to ex-George Groves mentor Adam Booth. Known to most for his work in taking David Haye to the summit of the heavyweight divison, Booth is highly respected in boxing circles and is said to be fantastic on the mental aspect of the game, a part of Price he has openly admitted needs serious repair work.
The Liverpudlian will benefit immensely from the change of scenery. Despite bulldozing his way through the domestic scene with Smith in his corner, Booth’s experience at world level will be invaluable in rebuilding Price’s career.
With the ‘Hayemaker’ looking set to retire, Booth can now avoid a conflict of interests, focusing all his energies on his new heavyweight prospect. After the double defeat to Thompson, Price desperately needed fresh ideas and a move to Booth will provide these moving into 2014.
Promoter Frank Maloney than announced his retirement from the sport in October, effectively making Price a free agent. As the promotional outfits circled like vultures to capture a well-respected and talented heavyweight, the 30-year-old showed a mature head to step back and consider the next step carefully.
After months of deliberation, the decision was made to go with Sauerland Promotions of Germany, a move destined to bring the fear factor back into David Price’s name.
Kelle and Nisse Sauerland, two brothers raised in London, are currently big business in the European boxing market. While their headline fighters include Mikkel Kessler and up-and-coming middleweight prospect Patrick Nielsen, Sauerland Promotions hold a large number of shows around the continent each year. Despite holding Brit Deion Jumah as part of their team, Price is their first headline signing from the UK.
With the intention of a homecoming show in Liverpool next autumn, Price will have nothing but benefits from travelling around the world with Sauerland Promotions. Getting out regularly and facing varying styles of opponents, confidence will start to flow back as ring rust is cast aside and wins are chalked up.
By the time of the proposed Liverpool show in 2014 we can expect to see a revitalised and experienced heavyweight contender, perhaps where he should be now had his career been managed better following the demolition jobs of Audley Harrison and Matt Skelton in 2012.
England’s heavyweights look poised to pounce when the Klitschko’s call it a day. Tyson Fury, Dereck Chisora and, further down the line, Anthony Joshua all have feasible ambitions of reigning over the rest of the heavyweight division.
It looks like David Price, via some smart management from Sauerland Promotions with a physical, tactical and mental upheaval by Adam Booth, will definitely add himself back into the mix come the end of next year.
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