July 6, 2013 seems light years away for David Price. After a second defeat to Tony Thompson, he will be the first to admit his career appeared to be at a dead end.
The following months proved to be tough and testing for Price, staving off depression as he came to terms with those two fights. Tipped as a future heavyweight champion of the world, he came unstuck in front of a packed Echo Arena in his home city and his career appeared to crash down in front of their eyes.
Causes of defeat quickly did the rounds. Was it stamina, maybe a weak chin or did he lack a self-belief any heavyweight requires to topple the world scene?
Over time things began to heal. When promoter Frank Maloney retired, the 30-year-old considered his options for a long time before settling with Kalle and Nisse Sauerland, two London-born brothers working the German promotional circuit. Their plan is to take the Liverpudlian far away from a packed out Echo Arena and onto a much quieter European scene, slowly but surely rebuilding his once-shot confidence.
Trainer Franny Smith was also disposed of after the second Thompson fight. After a short spell with Adam Booth, Price turned to ex-Tyson and Klitschko trainer Tommy Brooks.
After a first round demolition of unheralded Istvan Ruzsinszky, the next stop on Price’s world tour is an unlikely destination of Esjberg, Denmark, appearing on the undercard of Erik Skoglung’s European light heavyweight defence.
The level of opposition is stepped up as Sauerland edge closer to an expected homecoming for the heavyweight. Ondrej Pala has a fight record of 33-4, 23 wins coming by stoppage, and is best known to UK fight fans by his third round loss to Dereck Chisora last year. Before an innocuous looking stoppage, with Pala being stuck in a corner with his back to the ring, he did have power to momentarily hurt Chisora and could well do the same to Price on Saturday.
This is perhaps the level of fight he should have taken before stepping up to Thompson, having virtually gone from domestic level fighters straight to world level. If Price can go through Pala in quick time, it represents another huge step back towards the world scene.
The second coming of David Price – confident, refreshed and free of past demons – is a much better prospect than the imposter we twice saw in the ring with Thompson. Credit must go to the Sauerland’s for rebuilding our heavyweight hope.
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