By John J. Raspanti
Christen Hammer (21-4, 12 KOs) retained his WBO European heavyweight title Saturday night by climbing off the canvas in round five to stop an exhausted David Price (21-4, 18 KOs) at the Olympia Arena in London, England.
Price, who entered the bout with advantages in height and reach, did well in the opening rounds.
He used his long jab and fired a few combinations. He landed a number of shots to the body, but he also made the mistake of allowing the smaller Hammer to force him to the ropes. Once there, Hammer was able to touch his suspect chin with looping punches.
Hammer found more success in round three, jolting Price with an uppercut.
Price battled back, but shockingly he was gasping for air like a fish out of water by the end of the stanza.
The big heavyweight (a career high 279 pounds last year, 275 Saturday) ran out of gas three years ago against Tony Thompson.
He was subsequently knocked out.
You better believe it.
Price had pockets of success in round four and almost ended matters in the next heat.
He connected with shots to the head and body, but also ate a number of punches. One blow from Hammer wobbled him, but to his credit, Price, likely fighting on instinct, landed a huge uppercut that sent Hammer to the canvas.
The German fighter stared at the referee with a shocked look on his face. Price gulped air in the neutral corner. He was likely praying that Hammer wouldn’t beat the count, but he did by two seconds.
Price tried to end things but ran out of time. Hammer did more damage in round six. Price was fighting like a man underwater.
But nobody can question his courage. He punched back whenever he had the energy.
By round seven, Price had nothing left. Hammer connected with an uppercut. Price bent forward and staggered away. Referee Phil Edwards glanced at Price and waved off the contest.
The time was 1:22.
Price, 34, has been dreaming of fighting for the heavyweight championship for years. He’s talked of meeting champion Anthony Joshua.
Dreams die hard.