Once Bitten, Price Shy

BY LEWIS CALVERT
@lewycalvert

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David Price’s third professional loss has seen him lose whatever reputation he had left in the sport of boxing.

In a disappointing night for British fans, the man tipped for greatness on the back of his Bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics failed to fulfil his potential, and was knocked out in the second round by Erkan Teper last night.

The frustration for Price’s fans come out of the comparison with fellow heavyweight Wladimir Klitschko, with their tall frames and athletic builds. But that is where the comparisons end.

Comparing their records makes for grim reading; Price was knocked out by Tony Thompson, not once, but twice. Klitschko knocked out Tony Thompson, not once, but twice. Make of that what you will.

Before his first fight with Thompson back in 2013, Price looked invincible both in appearance and boxing style. He had the attitude of a champion because at 15-0 he was still undefeated.

Boxers with unblemished records like Mayweather, Thurman, Garcia, Brook, Golovkin, Ward and even Tyson Fury, have an unwavering confidence in themselves. They don’t believe they can be beaten simply because they haven’t been beaten. Confidence breeds confidence. And they have no doubts in their mind about their own ability.

Once a boxer picks up a loss there is a change in their attitude, and with it, their fighting style. They become more cautious, they pick softer fights, hide behind their guard and hold whenever the heat is on and punches are thrown.

This is never more apparent than in David Price. He hasn’t looked the same fighter since being beaten by Tony Thompson and then losing the rematch.

Wlad learnt from the pasting he received at the hands of Corrie Sanders over a decade ago, and has since laid the blueprint for tall heavyweights to win: use your reach and stay behind your jab, wearing your opponent down and the victory will come.

Had Price done that last night we would be talking about him in future world title fights but because he didn’t, his stock has plummeted to somewhere between Dereck Chisora’s and Audley Harrison’s. Which doesn’t say much.

The Scouser looked visibly nervous in his four subsequent wins since Thompson, and looked scared whilst in the ring with the bruising Teper. Price’s cagey approach possible  evidence that he has concerns over his own ability to take a punch.

Even the punching he was dishing out left nothing to be desired. Price looks like he is about to touch a scalding hot iron the way he tentatively waves his jab back and forth, it is as though he has a fear of being burnt, or in his case, knocked out.

But it is a little unfair to say “David Price has a glass chin” because, unlike the smaller weight classes, in heavyweight boxing it only takes one punch to win a fight. Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis were on the end of unlikely knock outs in the not too distant past. That is boxing for you.

Price can now only hope Eddie Hearn throws him a bone and puts him in the ring with Anthony Joshua for a decent pay day. Which, as favours go, isn’t one many people would take up in a hurry. Or he can hope Tyson Fury loses to Klitschko in October and wants to bounce back with a domestic grudge match. Beyond that, Price could become a gatekeeper for the division, cannon fodder for future heavyweight contenders, his body passed around the big boys like a new arrival in prison. Although at 32, there are calls for him to retire.

As unlikely as it may seem, last nights second round loss might have awakened the beast, Price might now take on all comers, he might finally start letting his hands go early on in a fight, he might be used as a tune up fight by Deontay Wilder before Wilder’s inevitable clash with Klitschko and Price might even win. For as James Arthur Baldwin once said: “the most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.”

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