By Mark Whalley
Thompson bt Price (TKO 2)
Liverpudlian prospect David Price suffered a shock knockout defeat at the hands of Tony Thompson on Saturday night, throwing his world title aspirations into disarray.
Thompson, who at 41 years old is generally regarded as a faded force, landed a right hook in the second round that put Price on the canvas.
A stunned home crowd saw Price get back to his feet but fail to steady himself, resulting in the referee stopping the fight.
Price had been in menacing form and his last two outings saw him brutally destroy Audley Harrison in just 82 seconds and Matt Skelton in two rounds.
While American Thompson, who has only lost three times including twice to Wladimir Klitschko, was expected to be Price’s toughest test to date, the fight was still seen ultimately as a stepping stone to world glory.
“Tiger” Thompson had not read the script though and, following a non-event of a first round, responded to a Price onslaught with a cheeky short right hook that ended the fight.
In honesty the blow did not look overly powerful but it landed behind the ear which a despondent Price later claimed had completely disorientated him.
Questions will now be asked about whether promoter Frank Maloney has been protecting his charge too much by feeding him inferior opponents.
There will also be questions about the quality of Price’s chin, which has been a worry for many given his history of being put down several times as an amateur.
World heavyweight champions cannot afford to have fragile whiskers.
Most disappointingly for British boxing fans, the result probably puts the breaks on a collision course between Price and Mancunian Tyson Fury.
Fury, who has world title aspirations of his own, has been playing hard-ball in negotiations for years and this result is only likely to worsen that stance, with Price now being considered “damaged goods”.
However fighters have suffered devastating defeats before and come back stronger.
Maloney will remind Price that he guided Lennox Lewis back from two knockouts to become one of the best heavyweights of all time.
Though that will be little consolation for Price right now, who must now regroup and re-evaluate his route to the top.
Though for Price, who’s now stands at 15 wins (13 KOs) and one defeat, that will be little consolation right now and he must now regroup and re-evaluate his route to the top.