After six losses, Price still going, ‘one fight at a time’

1037822580.jpg.0 - After six losses, Price still going, ‘one fight at a time’

David Price knows he’s not in the heavyweight race, but he’s fighting on, and returns on Saturday.

After Audley Harrison but before Anthony Joshua, there was David Price.

The giant Liverpool heavyweight won bronze at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, beaten in the semifinal round by eventual gold medal winner Roberto Cammarelle of Italy, a stalwart presence in the amateur ranks this century.

Price, standing 6’8” with an 82-inch reach, turned pro in March 2009 in his hometown, stopping David Ingleby, a veteran club fighter, in the third round. There was plenty of hope and hype around Price, and for a while, everything went as planned.

In June 2011, he stopped fellow unbeaten prospect Tom Dallas in two. He followed that up with a 73-second demolition of John McDermott, and then knocked out Sam Sexton in four rounds to win the vacant British and Commonwealth titles.

Audley Harrison, the former Olympic gold medalist whose pro career never quite panned out, froze up in the headlights again in an Oct. 2012 fight with Price, who stopped him in 82 seconds. Matt Skelton went down in two rounds the following month.

Price was 29 years old and humming along as a pro, decimating the domestic ranks, living up to his billing. World level glory was on the horizon.

And then he met Tony Thompson in Feb. 2013. Thompson, by then 41 years old, had lost twice in world title bids against Wladimir Klitschko, but everyone was losing to Klitschko. He was a crafty veteran southpaw, a legitimate next step for Price even at Thompson’s advanced age. The hope was that coming off of his second stoppage loss to Klitschko, Thompson would be past it, and Price would notch a nice win.

Thompson stopped Price in two rounds in the main event at Liverpool’s Echo Arena.

They set up a rematch for July — same venue, main event once more. Price said a few weeks before the fight that he’d underestimated Thompson the first time around, gotten complacent as a result of his prior successes and the roll he’d been on.

The rematch was a chance at revenge and redemption for Price. With an impressive win, he could get right back on track.

That second shot at Thompson took place on Price’s 30th birthday. He dropped the American in the second round. He tried to finish. Thompson held his ground. Thompson wore him out. Thompson stopped him again, battering him in the fifth round until the referee had to stop the fight.

Price didn’t argue the stoppage. He didn’t grant a post-fight interview in the ring. And for all intents and purposes, the dream that David Price would become a world heavyweight champion died at Echo Arena.

For the next two years, Price quietly stepped back and racked up four wins over lesser opposition. He took a crack at the European heavyweight title in July 2015, and was knocked out in the second round by Erkan Teper. Months later, it was revealed that Teper had failed a drug test. In the end, the EBU vacated the title but allowed the result to stand.

Price spent 2016 back at the drawing board, taking two more lower-level fights, winning both. His weight went up — Price had come in between 244 and 253 for every pro fight before 2016, and then tipped the scales at 271 and 278¾, perhaps an indication that at least for a time, he had also given up believing his career was headed anywhere.

He faced Christian Hammer, and was stopped in seven, weighing in at 275. He sat out 10 months, then came back in better shape, checking in under 260. He won a low-level fight.

Price was given a shot at Alexander Povetkin in March 2018, and bless Price, he gave it everything he had, slugging it out with the Russian contender until he was knocked out in the fifth. In September, he faced prospect Sergey Kuzmin. An injury stopped Price after four rounds. In December, he returned and won another lower-tier scrap.

David Price is now 35 years old, with a career record of 23-6 (19 KO). He still has punching power. He still has some heart. But it’s been a long time since he was mowing down McDermott, Sexton, Harrison, and Skelton, and the visions of championship glory and big paydays have faded.

Price returns on Saturday, again at home in Liverpool. It’s his first fight in the city since the Thompson rematch almost six years ago. Liam Smith will headline against Sam Eggington; Price’s days of main events are in the past.

This time out, he’ll face Kash Ali (15-0, 7 KO), a 27-year-old hopeful from Birmingham who will be taking an enormous step up in competition against the big veteran. Ali has spent over seven years fighting on small shows across England. Price is his chance to break through and get an opportunity.

As for Price, he has no illusions about where his career is at, but you can tell he still has a bit of spark, a glimmer of hope that if he just fights and wins, he might still get to the promised land:

“For too long I was looking too far ahead and hoping for a big fight with one of the champions, but the time has come where I can’t do that. I’ve lost six times and no promoter is going to sit down with me and give me a long-term plan where I can be guided to such an opportunity. I’ve just got to take it one fight at a time, keep on winning, and then see where that takes me.”

Realistically, no, it’s almost certainly not going to happen for David Price.

But boxing can be a funny sport, too, with all kinds of people winding up getting title shots at some point, if they can put together a couple of decent nights and get their hand raised.

Junior middleweight Jason Welborn, for a recent example, had six losses and had never really sniffed world level, but he went on a little bit of a run and wound up in the ring with Jarrett Hurd last December. It didn’t turn out well for him, but he got there and gave it his best. Jason Welborn will always be able to say he fought for a world title.

The odds are against Price, and they have been for years. But he fights on, as fighters do, even if the once-bright light is just a flicker now.

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