Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Thompson Derails Price: What’s next for both?

When I previewed the Heavyweight fight between undefeated hot rising prospect David Price and former two-time world title challenger and longtime contender Tony Thompson  several weeks ago, I stated that in my view David Price could be one of the fighters if not the fighter who may take over the Heavyweight division in the post-Klitschko era.  I also stated that it could be a valid argument that Price who entered into his fight with Thompson with a record of 15-0, with 13 Knockouts had not been tested on the world level of the sport. 

As questions surrounded David Price as to just how good he was before the fight, questions also surrounded Tony Thompson.  Thompson who entered the fight with a record of 36-3, with 24 Knockouts was coming off of his second knockout loss in his second attempt to lift the Unified World Heavyweight championship from Wladimir Klitschko.  In that fight Thompson was unable to put up much resistance to Klitschko and it appeared as though Thompson was beginning to show signs of a fighter who was on the decline. 

When the fight was first announced I questioned whether or not it was too much, too soon for Price.  Despite his stellar record, I wondered whether or not having only fifteen professional fights would affect Price in any way.  By the same token, I wondered what Thompson would have to offer in the fight in terms of providing a test for Price. 

Although Thompson did not look good in his rematch with Wladimir Klitschko, he was after all still a legitimate top fifteen Heavyweight and should have been viewed by most impartial observers as a dangerous opponent.  Thompson was however forty-one years old and despite being considerably more experienced on the world level than Price, was a significant underdog. 

One thing that sort of took this observer by surprise before the fight was that Thompson weighed in at 262lbs. the heaviest weight of his career.  It made me wonder what affect if any, the weight would have on Thompson if the fight extended into the middle rounds.   The fifteen pound weight disparity between Thompson and Price who weighed in at 247lbs. and who had a three inch height advantage over Thompson seemed to give validity to those who considered Thompson an underdog. 

When the fighters entered the ring this past weekend in Price’s hometown of Liverpool, England there was not much to separate either fighter in the first round.  It was a typical feeling out round that Price seemed to do a little more and probably won the round.  In the second round Price was able to briefly stun Thompson with a right hand and sent him back along the ropes. Thompson also took some body punches in this offensive spurt by Price but it did not appear as though he was seriously hurt. 

It was late in the round that the fight would be brought to a sudden and dramatic conclusion.  In an exchange of right hands Thompson was able to land on the neck of Price sending him to the canvas.  Price was able to beat the count on extremely rubbery legs and the bout was subsequently stopped by referee Steve Gray at 2:17 of the round. 

It was a shocking and unexpected conclusion because it did not appear initially that the punch that Price was hit with was damaging enough to end the fight.  This no doubt will prompt some to criticize Price’s ability to take a punch and or, whether or not he was ready to take on an opponent of the caliber of Thompson.

Although some may be quick to criticize Price, this observer will not be one of them.  For those who have read my work over the years, or have had the opportunity to correspond with me, you know that one thing that I often say is Anything can happen at any given time in Boxing and that’s what makes our sport so great.

Some may question Price’s chin however it’s worth noting that the punch that dropped Price was not absorbed on the chin.  It was absorbed on the neck and seemed to land just bellow the ear.  A punch absorbed in that area can affect a fighter’s equilibrium and can certainly explain why Price appeared to go down awkwardly and subsequently get up on unsteady legs.  Although the result of this fight cannot be questioned, it would be foolish at this stage to say that David Price is no longer a prospect. 

Prior to the knockout, neither fighter was hurt and the fight appeared to be heating up.  A one punch knockout that now opens several possibilities for not only Thompson and Price but the Heavyweight division as well.  Let’s examine what may be in store for these two Heavyweights. 

For Tony Thompson his win over Price reestablishes himself as a contender for either Unified WBA/IBF/IBO/WBO champion Wladimir Klitschko or, for WBC champion Vitali Klitschko.  Thompson for his part said following the fight that he wants to face undefeated Heavyweight contender Tyson Fury who much like David Price, is a rising prospect.  If Thompson were to fight Fury and be successful it would be hard to argue that he would not have earned a third opportunity at the Heavyweight title against either of the Klitschko brothers, for Thompson would have rebounded from defeat to knock off two of the Heavyweight division’s hottest prospects both of whom were unbeaten. 

Thompson has accomplished part one of that goal. Would he be able to defeat Tyson Fury?  Only time will tell.  There are however other worthy prospects and contenders in the Heavyweight division like Bryant Jennings, Denis Boystov, Robert Helenius, among others who would likely welcome the opportunity to face Thompson not only due to the new found notoriety Thompson now has off of his conquest of Price, but also keeping in mind that Thompson is a fighter who has fought for the Heavyweight championship of the world twice. A win over Thompson may indeed springboard a prospect/contender into a world title shot. 

Although Thompson may indeed have his sights set on Tyson Fury for his next fight, one possibility that should be considered is a rematch with David Price.  Thompson’s victory was after all sudden, dramatic, and came out of nowhere.  Many fans, odds makers, and experts alike may have written Thompson off prior to the fight.  Thompson now finds himself in the position to be able to potentially garner more in terms of money for a rematch with Price than he earned for this fight. A rematch would no doubt be a hot ticket draw in the UK and may perhaps garner significant attention here in the United States as well.

Would David Price be open to a rematch?  It is often said that it is how a fighter handles defeat that may determine just how good they are.  David Price for the moment has been knocked off his course as he was on the path to a potential world title shot in the not too distant future. 

Although Price must now deal with a setback in terms of his career; it is important to remember that it is a setback not a career ending blow.  Price is still a prospect and still may find himself in position to challenge for the Heavyweight championship in the future.   I believe the best option for Price is Thompson if a rematch can be made.  Tyson Fury may also be in his future. 

For those who may criticize Price off of this knockout loss it should be noted that many of the top fighters in the Heavyweight division are not undefeated.  As well many former champions lost fights prior to winning versions of the World Heavyweight championship.  John Ruiz, Bruce Seldon, Frank Bruno, and let’s not forget Wladimir Klitschko just to name a few.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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