By Paul Mason
Hot on the heels of the announcement of the big Heavyweight unification match between WBA (Super) IBF and IBO Champion, Anthony Joshua, and WBO boss, Joseph Parker, an offer was made for an intriguing match scheduled for the undercard.
Liverpool’s as yet unfulfilled talent, and 2008 Olympic Bronze medallist, David Price has agreed to face a former WBA Heavyweight Champion, and still formidable talent, in the 2004 Olympic Champion at Super Heavyweight, Russia’s controversial Alexander Povetkin. The fight will take place on March 28 inside the magnificent national stadium of Wales, The Principality Stadium. Terms have been put to team Povetkin and these await a response. Povetkin’s management reportedly want their man on the card in Wales to put him right in line to face the winner of the main event. But facing Price may be a no win situation for the Russian. Win and he does what everyone expected him to do. Lose and his career, at the age of 38 lies in tatters.
Reportedly if Povetkin declines, then Price against Dereck Chisora will be Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn’s secondary option.
For Price this really does represent a final chance at fulfilling his massive potential, having now been worryingly stopped four times. There is no doubt he has all the tools to succeed, possessing a booming jab and frightening one punch knockout power. But too often he has looked like his tank empties alarmingly quick, allowing his opponents to overwhelm him and eventually have him out on his feet and stopped.
Price turned professional in March 2009 on the back of his successful Olympic campaign in Beijing. He signed terms with promoter Frank (now Kellie) Maloney, and was eased in to the professional ranks on a diet of journeymen, racking up eleven straight wins. He moved into decent domestic class by knocking out John McDermott in under two minutes of the first round in January 2012 at the Liverpool Olympia. He followed this up by knocking out Sam Sexton in four rounds at Aintree Racecourse to capture the vacant British and Commonwealth Heavyweight Titles. This was expected to be lift off for him, and he duly despatched Audley Harrison inside a round and Matt Skelton in two to cement his ever growing promise.
Maloney decided to step Price up, but the step would be way too far. He went from fighting faded domestic forces to mixing in World class. Former two time World Title challenger, Tony Thompson would be the name Maloney went for in order to help Price gate-crash the World scene. On a big night at the Echo Arena, Price would be felled by a right hand to the side of the head in the second. A wobbly Price was clearly unable to continue, and the fight was waved off. This was shrugged off as a minor blip and a stroke of luck for Thompson, and a rematch was less than five months in the making, and at the same scene as the February 2013 loss. After scoring a knockdown in the second round, Price went for broke in the third and went toe to toe with the Washington resident, and subsequently “punched himself out”. After being in serious trouble at the end of the fourth, the fifth round was painful viewing. Price took a bad beating and ended up being slumped over the turnbuckle, defenceless, and Thompson again forced the stoppage. It must be also noted that Thompson failed the post fight drug test.
Price was forced back to the drawing board, and joined forces with the Sauerland’s. He won three fights in Germany and one in Denmark, all against low key opposition, deep down on undercards. These morale boosting wins set up a shot at the vacant European Heavyweight Title against Erkan Teper. Price would be spectacularly knocked out in the second round in Baden, Germany, leaving his career in tatters. Teper would become another Price opponent to fail a drugs test. Although the German authorities eventually bowed to pressure and declared the bout a no contest, EBU rules were applied and the contest result remained the same, but the European Title stripped from Teper.
The rebuild from the Teper defeat was again a slow affair. Price returned at the home of his favourite football teams rivals, Everton’s Goodison Park, way down the card on his good friend, Tony Bellew’s WBC Cruiserweight Title triumph against Ilunga Makubu. Under new trainer, Dave Coldwell, he scored a stoppage win over the 9-2 Vaclav Pejsar. Ivica Perkovic was then stopped in Germany before Price was stepped up once again to challenge for the WBO European Heavyweight Title against Christian Hammer, who was European class at best, but had outpointed Erkan Teper in his previous bout. Again Price’s tank would alarmingly empty, but stunningly managed to produce a fifth round knockdown. But when rice was caught by multiple hooks in round six, the writing was on the wall. Even though the bell saved him, there was not enough time to recover, and Hammer’s non stop assault in the next round mercifully forced the stoppage of a drunken looking Price.
Price would be forgiven for calling it quits, but has now aligned with George Vaughan, Derry Mathews and Joe McNally. as his new training team, following the split with Coldwell. He returned last month, easily outpointing Polish journeyman, Kamil Sokolowski over six rounds in Brentwood.
And so to Povetkin. On the surface, this looks like a mismatch and should result in a stoppage win for the Russian. Povetkin has mixed in World class for some time, and in his most recent fight, he easily handled Christian Hammer over twelve, so the form lines don’t point to a Price win either. Povetkin will be the much smaller man, and this could benefit Price. Price needs to use his boxing skills and not panic under pressure, which he is prone to do. My hope is that if this fight comes off, Price can gain confidence by running the Russian close and taking him to the wire. Price will hope that age will catch up with Povetkin, but I can only envisage an early to mid stoppage win for the Russian. I hope I am wrong as the likeable Liverpudlian certainly deserves an upturn in fortunes.