By Andrew Picken: Boxing don’t you just love it. Last night another drama worthy of any Eastenders or Coronation Street Script unfolded with the unthinkable happening … Price stopped again. Inevitably the criticisms will start rolling in thick and fast, I have my opinion but let’s be honest hindsight is a wonderful skill. Besides I like Price he comes across, articulated, intelligent and composed outside of the ring and this loss will be a really difficult time for promoter and fighter.
You could see the emotion all over Maloney’s face in the post – fight interview, a bitter pill to swallow but the reality is Price has no excuses now. He proved he could take a shot, however he looked nervous, rigid and by round 3 exhausted. It’s hard to make judgement calls on this but retirement isn’t off the cards in my opinion. If Price had won Thompson the first time we would be praising Maloney’s careful handling of Prices career and calling Fury to take a match in a Domestic super-fight. The reality of that ever happening is more distant now than it ever has been. The Wiley old veterans of this Sport are sometimes undestimated, Thompson showed that champion experience yesterday.
He cleverly weathered the storm from his young, hungry aggressor early on, saw early signs of tiredness and outworked Price into near submission. Thompson is having an Indian summer in his career at the moment and he deserves praise for the way he went about it yesterday – no freak punch this time. So on that note big pat on the back for Thompson, and by the way I hope his wifes hip held up last night from a Tiger mauling!
Analysing yesterday there’s a bigger picture emerging. The display yesterday tells us a few things about the Heavyweight division so far, well beyond Price. David Haye for all his critics, came up from a weight class below and took on wiley veterans such as Barrett and Ruiz on the way to holding a World Title. It adds credibility to this achievement. Tyson Fury has been knocked down, but got back up, throws punches in bunches, looks a hell of a lot more agile than Price, and for all the controversial comments he does back up his boasts. But the biggest winners out of these dramas playing out leagues below them are those blooming Klitschkos. Let’s be honest these guys rarely get the respect they deserve but their combined domination and experience is near on unbeatable. Look at the way Vladimir dealt with Thompson, stiff long jab, at range completely taking away Thompsons ability to get inside and making him look poor. That suggests these performances are due to the excellent technical abilities of Klitschko to dominate Thompson rather than Thompson as a washed up fighter like so many thought. On that display it made Thompson look washed up, an easy target for Price but Thompson is far better than a Matt Skelton and Price has found that out twice. Call it the safety first approach or what you will with Vladimir Klitchsko, but it’s the right strategy, they are not pitter patter punches but solid, hurtful shots- ask Thompson. Price would have been better to keep it long but sometimes with big fighters there’s an obvious flaw which is they struggle up close with those long arms. Thompson seemed to instinctively know Price had slowed down and upped his work-rate with combinations. Price didn’t seem to be able to counter this with short stinging shots with those long arms but instead covering up allowing Thompson to find the holes – which he did. It’s also true Price makes it obvious when he’s hurt, his legs seem to become unsteady and he arches his back over but this maybe be reflex rather than consciously doing it. Sorry David I have just levelled a tonne of criticism there at you, no offence intended, just my observations from the fight last night.
To conclude, my rather short, blunt article there’s one more key component we can take from the fight last night, an often underestimated factor in any sport, but in particular boxing. Mental strength and application. Nervous energy channelled correctly can be an asset, but if it takes over it can be a detriment. I believe this played a part last night, Price looked both tense and rigid, pre – fight, ring walk and during the match. He failed to establish a rythem, something that would have bred confidence whilst fighting in the ring. Tony Bellew displayed this in his Oliver McKenzie rematch by not going out all guns blazing but boxing a clever more tactical fight – Price should have took a leaf out of his book. The reason boxing pundits, in certain aspects, see losses as a positive is the ability for that boxer to get in the ring again and exorcise those demons. Amir Khan did this after his loss to Prescott accumulating 8 wins including a big punching Maidana before losing to Lamont Peterson. Love him or hate him, if there was ever a boxer who didn’t stop believing it was Audley Harrison, time and time again when we thought he was done he came back with a shock win. Positivity ebbed from Harrison, even his harshest critics couldn’t fail to think maybe just maybe this time he could do it. Some may point out that Price had been given a path too easy and that a loss earlier on his career would have been better in terms of timing and rebuilding, the wake up call if you like. In some ways that’s a plausible argument. Others will point out that having both the input of Lewis and Franny Smith could have caused confusion. Price and Lewis are both different fighters and maybe just maybe Lewis could have concentrated on the mental rebuilding of defeat – maybe he did I simply don’t know. Price has a lot to do, maybe it’s down to personal characteristics, doubts or that lack of confidence but one thing is for sure rebuilding from this, although not impossible is going to be very difficult. It will be interesting to see who will become the scape goat, Lennox Lewis, Franny Smith or Frank Maloney. This is slightly unfair all had the best intentions in the camp I am sure but sometimes a boxers own limitations can be the biggest obstacle and last night Price showed he can have the fight punched out of him. For now it’s quite simple. An exit out of the Sport for Price or some warm up fights and maybe a European shot further down the line. However this drama pans out I wish Price the best of luck on whichever route he decides to take.