By Geno McGahee
Boxing is an unpredictable sport where one punch can change history. That is no truer than in the heavyweight division and when you deal with super heavyweights, anything can happen at any time. Rising star, David Price, 15-1, 13 KO’s, was on the fast track to superstardom, demolishing veterans Audley Harrison (KO-1) and Matt Skelton (KO-2) and decided to move up the level of competition by taking on Tony Thompson, 37-3, 25 KO’s.
For Price, Thompson seemed like the easy mark. The two notable defeats on the record of Thompson were to Wladimir Klitschko. What was most notable was the second defeat to Wlad, where Thompson seemed to have had his spirit broken before the fight. He was easily destroyed. Price, being similar to Wlad in size and power, saw this as his chance to do the same thing to a respected contender and one that was probably well past his prime. Thompson at 41 seems too old to be a serious threat to a true challenger on the rise.
On February 23rd, at Echo Arena in Liverpool, UK, the bout took place and Price pressed the action as the older southpaw moved around the ring. The right hand from Price seemed to be the punch that would decide the fight. He was starting to find the range for it and landed it a couple time as Thompson’s back hit the ropes. The first round was a good one for the British fighter, but the second round would present a shocker.
Thompson countered Price with a right hook that dropped him. Barely able to get to his feet, Price had no legs and the referee stopped it. The next big thing in heavyweight boxing had just lost and Thompson was reborn. He wasn’t going to go right into a third fight with Wlad, but Vitali Klitschko, WBC Champion, was an option. Before that can happen, Price demanded a rematch and this Saturday, it will happen.
The Echo Arena will be home to this meeting, as it was the first time. Price has insisted that we will see revenge take place and that the image of him on his back will be replaced with one of his hands held high in victory. Thompson has remained quiet and focused, hoping to find that mark again and make it back to back knockout victories.
The first bout was called a fluke by many, but when you look at the records of the two combatants, that can be questioned. Price was carefully guided against hand-picked opposition. The management knew what fighters would make him look good and didn’t present enough risk to concern them with. Thompson was a mistake, but there is no need to repeat it. Only Wladimir Klitschko, the best heavyweight since Lennox Lewis, has been able to beat Thompson. It is fair to say that outside of Wlad, Thompson would beat most, if not all, other heavyweights.
Price’s record is a collection of has-beens and never-weres. He disposed of them in impressive fashion, but with only 15 fights, Thompson may have been too much, too soon, and here we go again with the same scenario, but this time, he may be entering the ring with a damaged psyche. It’s the same arena, same ring, and same opponent. The same feelings have to be entering the head of Price and it’s hard to imagine it not making an impact in this fight.
Although the majority is picking Price to avenge the defeat, I suspect that Thompson repeats with a knockout in the later rounds. Price may have been the subject of hype and wishful thinking and we may see more evidence of this Saturday in the UK.