David Price
will take a huge gamble when he squares off against the man who destroyed his reputation
with one clubbing shot less than five months ago – Tony “The Tiger” Thompson


at the same venue; the Echo Arena in his hometown of Liverpool tonight
(Saturday). Price must win this fight and win emphatically to put his once
promising career back on track.

For his
part Thompson knows that if he were to land another thundering shot and score another
spectacular victory it would surely lead to a third crack at the world
heavyweight title.
30 year old
Price (15-1, 13 KOs) scaled 250 lbs. at yesterday’s weigh-in, while Thomson (37-3,
25 KOs), the shorter man at 6´5´´ to Price´s 6´8´´ weighed 259, just three
pounds lighter than in the first fight.
Much was
made of Thompson´s lack of conditioning prior to the first fight. Reports
coming out of the US in the buildup to the rematch had claimed that Thompson
was training like his Tiger nickname would suggest. His soft shape at the weigh-in
was something of a surprise. For his part, Price as per-usual could have been a
body-double for one of the  Klitschko
brothers.
At the time
of his spectacular defeat last February, Price was arguably the hottest
heavyweight prospect in boxing, with a knockout streak even more impressive
than US rival Deontay Wilder´s, as it included names fight fans actually recognized
like Audley Harrison (whom Wilder has since fought, and, like Price, KO´d in
one round), John McDermott, Matt Skelton and Tom Dallas. He was expected to
make short work of Tony Thompson, especially when the 41-year old American
turned up for the fight at a career heaviest and carrying so much blubber it
looked like he had turned up just for the payday.
Nevertheless
in the first round it was obvious that no matter what condition Thompson was
in, unlike his previous opponents he had no fear of Price. Thompson has twice
given good accounts of himself in world title fights with Wladimir Klitschko,
so a 15-fight virtual novice was hardly going to intimidate him. Thompson
looked relaxed and moved easily whereas Price looked stiff, awkward, nervous and
amateurish as he pawed with his left and waited for the opportunity to throw his
money punch – his booming straight right.
The second was
more of the same until late in the round Thompson caught Price behind the ear
with a solid shot to send him crashing down spectacularly.  Although he initially looked out cold, Price somehow
beat the count, but as the Americans used to say he was on “queer street” and referee
Steve Gray had no option but to stop the fight.
Queue some spectacular
and slightly ugly celebrations from Thompson in the ring as he gesticulated
wildly with the ringside journalists who had doubted him and his credentials as
a worthy opponent for Price. The scouse crowd looked on his stunned disbelief.
The result brought back images and memories of Bonecrusher Smith taking out
Frank Bruno in the 10th at the Empire Pool, Wembley in 1984, and
Oliver McCall icing Lennox Lewis in two at the Wembley Arena in 1994.
So what can
Price do differently in the rematch? For one, he must pump out his jab and use
it as a battering ram to keep Thompson at bay and soften him up for that rocket
of a right-hand. In the first fight Price´s jab was non-existent, suicidal
tactics against an opponent as ring savvy as Thompson. Wladimir Klitschko has
the best straight right in all of boxing today, but he sets it up with his
lance-like left jab. Why did Price, who is nothing like as accomplished a fighter
as Klitschko, believe that he didn’t need his left?
Price´s
poor tactics in the first fight can be blamed partially on his long-term trainer
Franny Smith. Price has retained the services of Smith for the rematch, and it
remains to be seen if this display of loyalty will be vindicated. In this
writer´s opinion Smith has done an okay job with Price, but nothing more.
Price
should have hooked up with a brand-new trainer of the quality of Adam Booth or Jimmy
Tibbs. Also, there was no real need to go straight in with Thompson again. Amir
Khan never fought Breidis Prescott again after his brutal first round KO loss,
and look how their respective careers turned out.
However,
the rematch was made, and this is now a make-or-break fight for Price and his
promoter Frank Maloney. No expense should have been spared in preparing the
fighter to perform to the highest standard possible, and to the best of his abilities.
Franny Smith may be a nice guy, but he has no pedigree whatsoever in boxing training
and it is easy to assume that Price retains his services out of loyalty, and certainly
not because of his tremendous ring knowledge and vast coaching experience.
I believe
that the lack of a change of trainer will cost Price dearly tonight. I have
terrible feeling that Thompson will be supremely confident and go for Price
with all guns blazing early. Price will be like a rabbit caught in headlights
and I doubt that he has the skills to fend Thompson off. This will be worse
than the first fight for Price, and I have a feeling it could be over in the
first round.  
Please don’t
get me wrong; I am a huge fan of David Price. I think he is a tremendously
exciting fighter, a thoroughly nice young man and a tremendous role model to
the kids in Liverpool. I also think he has a problem with punch resistance, but
so does Wladimir Klitschko, and he did what he had to do to prolong his career
and become a dominant world champion. Until Price does the same, he will be an
accident waiting to happen.

I truly
hope I am completely wrong and Price scores a spectacular KO victory, but even
if he does, until he employs a top-class trainer and develops a bullet-proof defense
a-la Wlad Klitschko, he can forget about becoming a world champion. 


Dan Hunter is the editor of The Boxing Post and the author of the weight training and fitness ebook Urban Muscle 
http://www.amazon.com/Urban-Muscle-New-Edition-Illustrated-ebook/dp/B005TFU15K


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