By John J. Raspanti
He’s back, but the question is why?
When last seen in the squared circle, David Price was wobbling around the ring, exhausted and out on his feet. He had been knocked out for the fourth time in his last 10 fights. His boxing epitaph was written. Retirement was his next step.
But after taking a break from the sport, Price, 34, has decided to give boxing another try. The news wasn’t much of a surprise. His most recent trainer, David Caldwell, thought that Price had retired.
"I’ve been in touch with David a few times over text or calls, just on a personal basis away from boxing, but in our last conversation about boxing he was going to call it a day,” Caldwell said in an article he penned for Sky Sports. “For me, David doesn’t need to box, he doesn’t need to prove anything and has achieved a hell of a lot more than many people in his career. As far as I was concerned, him walking away from the sport and enjoying his family was the right decision," Coldwell told Sky Sports.
"Fighters are always going to think ’I can give it one more try’, I can do better. But we’ve been here before with David. It’s not been Pricey’s ability that has let him down, it’s been how he reacts under pressure when things don’t go right. Once the doubts creep in, it’s very, very hard to get rid of them. He’s got to manage his nerves and his doubts. The bottom line is, if he can do that, then he’s a weapon in the heavyweight division.”
A mere two years ago, Price’s career appeared over after he was flattened by Ekran Teper, but giving up your passion in your early 30s is tough.
After pondering his future, Price fought twice, scoring two quick stoppages, but his attempt to move up was halted by Christian Hammer. 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.
The loss was the latest in a career of ups and downs.
Four years ago, Price, of Liverpool, England, appeared to be on his way to a shot at the heavyweight championship.
He had a solid amateur background—winner of the 2006 Commonwealth Games, and a bronze medalist at the 2008 Olympic Games. Price could box a little, but more importantly, he could punch. He had knocked out 13 of his first 15 opponents. The excitement around him was building.
After being by stopped by the 41-year-old Thompson, Price asked for a rematch. Five months later he faced Thompson again. Price landed a big right in round two that staggered Thompson.
A few seconds later, another shot put Thompson on his back. Somehow Thompson got up and stopped Price two rounds later.
The brutal loss to Teper almost sent Price into retirement, until his wife told him to stop moping about and get on with his career. Her loyalty inspired the six-foot eight-inch giant to pursue his dream of winning a title.
Price hired Coldwell as his new trainer. He’s won two bouts in less than five minutes, but there’s nothing a trainer can do about a suspect chin. Price will have new trainers George Vaughan, Derry Mathews and Joe McNally in his corner on September 30 against journeymen Raphael Zumbano Love (39-15-1, 32 KOs)
Price (21-4, 18 KOs) has been dreaming of fighting for the heavyweight championship for years. He’s talked of meeting champion Anthony Joshua.
Dreams die hard.