David Price talks Costa, Wilder, Fury and Joshua
In the summer of 2013, following a brace of knockout defeats to American heavyweight Tony Thompson, a deflated David Price was wholly convinced that changes were required. The British star’s unbeaten run had ended; expectations had plummeted and he had a career to resurrect in a hurry.
The former Olympic bronze medalist quickly signed with thriving European outfit Sauerland Boxing, sourced Tommy Brooks as head trainer and won three fights away from home. An unfortunate biceps injury led to the cancelation of a fourth bout in December but the 31-year-old is now fully fit and ready for action.
“The injury was more nuisance value but my bicep had the potential to rupture,” said Price (18-2, 15 knockouts) who faces Irineu Beato Costa Junior this weekend in Berlin, Germany. “Recently I’ve seen a few boxers with that injury and they’ve been out for a long time.
“We had to let common sense prevail and now it’s all systems go.”
Now all systems are go without Brooks, who elected to take on a new role back in the US; however, all is not lost. Franny Smith, Price’s original coach from his hometown of Liverpool, is back in charge and the 6-foot-8 boxer/puncher feels he has only benefited from the variation in his training.
Price said, “When I was working with Tommy, we spent so much time on the jab and straight punching plus my movement improved during that period. Right now, I’m better defensively and I’m moving my head more than I used to.
“I’ve made lots of improvements and I’m just looking forward to performing.”
So the immediate target is Brazilian puncher Costa (16-2, 14 knockouts), who suffered back-to-back defeats to Christian Hammer and the unbeaten Joseph Parker last year.
“[Costa]’s lost twice but is actually renowned for being pretty durable,” said Price in earnest. “Hammer beat him on points and the Parker loss was a knockout defeat on one huge punch, which can happen to anyone. Costa is a big, strong, come-forward fighter, who I believe will provide a bit of a test.
“I’ll be looking to set things up off my jab, take my time and I’ll move in when the time is right. That’s another attribute I’ve gained – patience. I’m not going in there to blast him out.”
The heavyweight scene is buzzing with the recent coronation of unbeaten WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder. Price was impressed with the charismatic American’s unanimous decision win over Bermane Stiverne, last month, although he doesn’t foresee a long reign for the man known as “The Bronze Bomber.”
“Wilder is a worthy champion at the moment,” said Price.
“I just think that title will change hands a couple of times, over the next 18 months. With that said, Wilder proved a lot of people wrong by boxing on the back foot. It’s no mean feat to move like that for 12 rounds, especially when you’re a big man, and he earned that victory.”
Speaking of big men, two years ago, Tyson Fury versus Price was the talk of British boxing before “Tiger” Thompson tore up the script. Fury, who is now within touching distance of his first world title shot, returns on Feb. 28 and appears to be extremely focused on his opponent, the aforementioned Christian Hammer.
“You don’t know what Tyson Fury you’re going to get though and he himself admits himself to having a bit of a split personality,” said Price, reagrding some of his countryman’s pre-fight antics. “One minute, he gives an opponent respect and the next minute, he flies off the handle and gives him abuse.
“I don’t see him taking Hammer lightly though and I think he’s matured in that respect. Tyson has a lot to lose and he knows this guy is highly ranked with a few good wins and a solid amateur background. I think he’ll ground Hammer down, in a similar fashion to how he dealt with Dereck Chisora, and stop him late.”
Olympic gold medalist Anthony Joshua is one of the hottest prospects in world boxing right now. The 25-year-old has won 10 straight bouts as a professional, all by knockout, and rumors were swirling that a match-up with Price was imminent.
Price said, “The Joshua fight has mostly been mentioned by his team and there was talk of staging it in the summer. To be honest, I don’t think it will happen that quickly because I’m a risky proposition for someone with that much investment in them.
“It’s a fight that they’re likely to take when it’s really worthwhile and, in 18 months’ time, providing we both keep winning, it will be a huge event. Two Olympians, two heavyweights, two big punchers in an all-British showdown is guaranteed to capture the public imagination.”
So Joshua is possible in 2016 but what about the remainder of this year? Well, if the proud Liverpool native prevails this weekend, then he’s looking to mix it up in his hometown for the very first time since he lost the rematch with Thompson.
Price said, “We’re looking to fight in Liverpool in the spring against a top 10-ranked opponent. It’ll be someone who is ranked higher than me, so the fight has real meaning. All going well there, the plan is to have a big domestic fight in the summer but I don’t know who that will be against.
“We need to take care of business on Feb. 21 before any of this can fall into place.”
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing