David Price has been to hell and back, twice, thanks to Tony Thompson and a two-fight tale of defeat, woe and devastation between February and July 2013. The story has done the rounds via print and web but now boxing has a new David Price. A David Price 2.0, if you will.
Four fights, four victories since January 25, 2014 have seen the British heavyweight bounce back thanks to new promoters Sauerland and some tweaks in the gym, not to mention a battle with his own mind.
“After the second Thompson fight I started working with a fella up in Liverpool, Terry McElhinney,” Price told The Fight City. “He’s like a mind coach and he put a lot of time into helping me develop new mental techniques going into fights. I worked with him for a while before the Zavarotnyi match and he put me in a good place.”
Price won his third bout in a row when he took a unanimous decision over Yaroslav Zavarotnyi in Germany last June.
“The mind is a really individual thing,” continued Price. “It’s not something that can be taught which is why I had to figure out what the best way was to go about things.”
And then, with a jovial laugh, the 31-year-old added: “I was never a fucking headcase! But I wish I knew then what I know now.”
What he knows now includes learning to take the pressure off himself, to enjoy his work in the ring again and, as he freely admitted, to not place too much emphasis on his boxing career.
“It sounds stupid,” he said, “but I took boxing too seriously. It’s my job and I’ve got ambitions to be the best, but the fact is I’ve got the talent, the ability and the physical attributes. If I can be the best I can be, I can be really, really good. And I’ll just keep trying to achieve that.”
Nowadays, going to the gym is no longer a chore for Price. He realizes he doesn’t have to win every second of every round of every spar. He’s happy to give away rounds during sessions if it means working on techniques or tactics which can then be applied in future matches.
“That was the approach I took in my last fight. I’d been working on little movements in the gym, little steps across and little feints. I don’t need to prove to anyone that I can get in the ring and blast someone out in two rounds because that’s all I’ve ever seemed to do.”
But it hasn’t been solely down to working on things in the gym and during fights which has aided his career recovery.
“I’ve been reading books about how the mind works. If you can understand how your mind works, then you can control it more. Mind control is a massive thing in sport, and when I look back at what I’ve done in my career, knowing what I know now, I deserve to give myself a pat on the back for my achievements.
“Everything that’s happened has been an experience and I’ve experienced highs and lows. Now I know how to deal with the lows. Although it’s bad at the time, it’s not the end of the world.”
Of course it wasn’t difficult for 2014 to be an improvement on 2013 for Price. Looking back, the Liverpudlian was predominantly pleased with his efforts, which consisted of three wins, two inside the distance, one of which saw Price getting off the canvas against Ondrej Pala, and one which went the scheduled ten rounds. Along the way Price picked up valuable experiences. Firstly, the knockdown against Pala:
“I was on the floor in the first round and I got up and came back to win,” he recalled. “It wasn’t a heavy knockdown. I was off balance. I had the referee in front of me to give me a count and mentally that can do a lot of things to a fighter. I got the experience of coming back from that which had never happened for me in the pros before.”
And then ten rounds against Yaroslav Zavorotnyi in Germany, now a second home for Price’s career after teaming up with Sauerland.
“I went ten rounds in blistering heat. I’ve never competed in heat like that but I came out of it much stronger, knowing I can deal with such intensity. But apart from the fights themselves, I feel I’ve developed as a boxer.”
The purpose of the development has been for Price to get back on the horse and to rebuild himself away from home. So far, so good. A potential step-up match is being discussed for this summer and the names being discussed include Dereck Chisora, Mariusz Wach and Alexander Ustinov. Price knows that a victory over such an opponent, with a statement performance thrown in for good measure, would have him back in contention for a world title shot.
And going by his post-fight interview with Sky Sports after his last outing, when he declared, “I’m a dangerous man because I’ve got nothing to lose,” Price appears more than ready for the challenges to come.
“It was a statement to my rivals,” Price confirmed. “They need to understand that the pressure’s off me. I’ve got nothing to lose because the worst that can happen has already happened to me. I’m not afraid of that happening again because I can deal with it and it changes your mentality going into fights.”
Then came his response to the continuous talk of a showdown between himself and Anthony Joshua.
“I’ve been a pro longer than Anthony Joshua. I’ve had more fights and I’ve knocked more people out than he’s had fights. He’d be getting into the ring the favourite because of the machine, the hype surrounding him. He is a good fighter and he’s won Olympic gold but if you strip it down, in the end it’s two men in the ring wearing shorts, boots and gloves. I believe I’m in a position to come out on top against anyone I face at this level. And then we move on to bigger things.”
Despite Joshua being placed on a pedestal that he isn’t ready for yet, there’s no doubt he has shown ferocious power through a 12 fight winning streak to start his career. We haven’t seen him challenged, placed under real pressure, or threatened to the point where the result of the fight is in doubt. Maybe the hype is real, maybe we never will know. But maybe Price is the man to help us find out.
All that said, does Price take it as an insult or a compliment that Joshua and his promoter, Eddie Hearn, are kicking keen for the fight to happen?
“I take it as a compliment. The fact is he’s going through opponents like a hot knife through butter but they’re all the same type of opponents, stylistically. Things would be different if he fought someone taller, but like I said, there’s a hype machine surrounding him and he needs big fights and meaningful fights.
“If you’re good enough, then you’re ready and they say he’s ready. So it’s gonna happen. Two good, big punching heavyweights: it’s got all the ingredients to make a big fight. Whether it happens sooner rather than later, we don’t know. But what I will say is, whenever they’re ready, so are we.
“The ball is in their court, but like I said I’m on my own path. I’ve got a great set-up for myself and I’ve got every confidence I’ll get that title shot in good time. If there’s an Anthony Joshua fight along the way, then we’re more than ready.” — Shaun Brown