News February 2013

David Price stopped by Tony Thompson. Ringside reaction


By @John_Evans79

There is no nice way to dress it up; David Price’s shocking knockout loss to Tony Thompson last night was British boxing’s nightmare scenario.

I’ve never been hit by Tony Thompson but, from ringside, the punch which ended matters didn’t initially appear to be a devastating shot and the immediate thought – maybe hope? – was that Price, now 15-1 (13), had twisted his knee on the way down. Sadly, as the man who had been generally regarded as the most natural successor to the Klitschko brothers clambered back to his feet, the truth became apparent.

The inquest into last night’s happenings will be in full swing and it is probably fair to say that most people with an opinion on the sport will fall into one of two camps.

The negative and, in the immediate aftermath of the fight, the most popular viewpoint will be that Britain’s biggest heavyweight hope was brutally exposed by a single punch from a 41 year old opponent who, by all accounts, had appeared unmotivated and uninterested all week. Just another British ‘horizontal heavyweight’.

The more positive outlook is that until the knockout Price had looked comfortable in his first step above British level. The punch landed behind the ear and left him badly disorientated. It is the type of shot which can finish anybody. This is heavyweight boxing after all.

Which is closest to the truth? The answer probably lies somewhere between the two.

For the best assessment of the fight maybe we should listen to Price’s immediate post fight interview on BoxNation. The crestfallen 29 year old admitted that he hadn’t seen the right hand which ended matters coming.

“It’s the punch that you don’t see that hurts you most,” he said. “That’s what happened. I went down and got up and the referee stopped the fight. It’s heavyweight boxing at the end of the day. If you get caught with a good shot it’s likely that can happen and it’s happened to me. What can I say? It’s disappointing. There’s no more I can say really.

“I’ve ended plenty of fights like that and now it’s happened to me.”

In a press conference more akin to a wake, Price’s promoter Frank Maloney (who later suffered a drop in blood pressure, was taken ill and was rushed to hospital) insisted that the knockout was nothing more than a “freak” shot that perforated his man’s eardrum. He also reminded us of the rebuilding job he undertook after a certain Lennox Lewis was knocked out in two rounds by Oliver McCall.

“What can you say? It’s one of those things,” a shell shocked Maloney said. “It’s happened before and, unfortunately, it’s happened to me before. I know we can come back from it. I’m as confident as anything. I’ve watched the punch. He got caught on the ear drum. The ear drum is perforated and he totally lost his balance. It’s just one of those things.

“We can’t learn much from that because he got caught on the side of the head. If it was a clean punch on the chin obviously I’d address it something different. They both went to throw a punch together and he got caught flush on the ear. He totally lost his balance and when he got up his balance was all over the place.

“I don’t think it’s a step back. It’s just a little setback. If you don’t get it right on the night in boxing everybody writes you off.

“I’m gutted. I’m gutted for David. I’m gutted for British boxing but we have to bounce back. This’ll prove how strong we are as a team and how mentally strong David is.”

To Price’s credit, he appeared and answered every question put to him. Price is a matter of a fact type of man and offered a brutally frank assessment of the situation he finds himself in.

“We’ll sit down and talk about getting back in the ring,” he said. “I didn’t take a sustained beating or anything. Don’t get me wrong, my spirits broken a bit but sometimes the quicker the better in circumstances like this. I’m still British and Commonwealth champion so I’m not in a bad position. In two or three fights time this’ll all be ancient history and I’ll be back in a position where I can talk about doing big things but as it stands its an knock and I’ve gotta take the knock and get on with it.

“I’ve got the mentality where shit happens and a lot worse things happen in life than losing a boxing fight. I can put it into perspective like that but it’s up to me to work hard, get myself back in the gym and make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

I generally find it hard to accept the ‘freak punch’ reasoning. Whilst it’s true that the punch landed in a horrible place, Price’s left hand was by his waist and he was badly out of position. Thompson threw a right hook which landed on the target area and had the desired effect. ‘The Tiger’ was also the first Price opponent with the skill and toughness to shake off Price’s attacks and retaliate rather than going into a shell or crumbling to the canvas.

Price’s ambition won’t have been dented by the defeat but he can expect to be hit by far harder punchers than Tony Thompson on his way to a heavyweight title fight. He will now also find himself in a similar position to that of Amir Khan. Fighters who before last night would have done everything in their power to stay away from David Price and his huge right hand will now see the big man as a vulnerable, high profile target.

The result leaves the future of the British – and world – heavyweight scene in a state of flux. Price was seen as the heir apparent to the Klitschko throne but any plans for an express route to a title shot will have to be redrawn.

It must be assumed that Hennessey Sports will do everything in their power to make a fight between Tyson Fury and Thompson. If Fury’s team saw no reason to tackle Price in a battle of the unbeatens, it is highly unlikely that they will risk taking the fight now that Price has been knocked out. Price may now be left in the unenviable position of having to rebuild whilst his heated rival takes his place as Britain’s man most likely.

Whoever said the heavyweight division was boring?

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