By John J. Raspanti
It was hard to watch, but not unexpected.
The six-foot-eight gentle giant stood in the center of the ring, his hands at his sides, helpless, as his 230-pound opponent teed him up.
Up to that point, former contender, David Price, might not have been winning, but he was hanging tough against highly-ranked Russian, Alexander Povetkin.
Price entered the fight with two strikes against him. His chin is faulty, and his stamina is suspect. These flaws had first reared their ugly head five years ago when Price was starched in two rounds by veteran Tony Thompson.
A temple shot, the same punch that would leave Price with glazed eyes and out on his feet this past Saturday in Wales, crumbled him. Price lasted three rounds longer in the rematch.
Thompson went down in round three but Price punched himself out trying to end the fight. Five minutes later, the match was over.
The losses devastated Price. He hid out and stayed away from the gym. He tried to smile away the pain.
He returned to win two fights against careful competition. But ultimately, things didn’t get better for Price. They got worse.
You can’t get around it in boxing. A weak chin and stamina problems, reportedly brought on by anxiety, are a deadly combination for a fighter. A few years later, Price was knocked out by Erkan Teper, and Christian Hammer. Retirement? Nope,Price was back in the ring late last year, looking listless and bored,winning a lackluster decision over one Kamil Sokolowski, winner of four of 16 contests.
But he couldn’t give up his dream of winning a world championship. He was only 34, young in life, but sometimes old in sports. For a fighter to give up the ring is one bitter pill.
A fight against Povetkin came out of nowhere. Price accepted the challenge immediately.
“It is a massive, massive chance for me and it has come from nowhere,” Price said in an article on www.fighthype.com. “I wasn’t expecting an opportunity like this to appear so it was a no-brainer.”
So there he was on Saturday, fighting on the undercard of the Anthony Joshua versus Joseph Parker heavyweight championship unification bout. Price smiled broadly as the roughly 78,000 fans cheered his ring walk. He was the sentimental favorite for obvious reasons.
He did well in the opening stanza. Povetkin tattooed his body and looked for openings. Price fought within himself and jabbed. He looked relaxed. A good right at the bell seemed to bother Povetkin. Price absorbed some more body shots as Povetkin worked to get him to drop his hands.
Povetkin was getting closer with his power shots. A few minutes later, in round three, a huge left hook deposited Price on the canvas. He got up with a frustrated look on his face. The big guy wasn’t going to go quietly. He took a few more shots and sent Povetkin stumbling to the ropes from a check hook at the bell. The big crowd roared as Price walked to his corner.
Was a miracle in the works?
Sadly, no. In round five, Povetkin nailed Price with the aforementioned temple shot. Price was out on his feet—suspended in animation. Povetkin let fly with a wicked left hook from the floor that crumbled Price like a skyscraper being detonated. The referee took one look at the prone Price and waved the fight off.
Hopefully the courageous Price will wave goodbye to boxing.
He has nothing to be ashamed of.