David Price is confident he can get his world title ambitions back on track despite Saturday night’s shocking second-round stoppage defeat to American veteran Tony Thompson.
The touted Liverpool heavyweight saw his dreams derailed when Thompson tore up the script by catching him with a punch on the ear which left Price on the canvas.
The British champion got back to his feet but was on unsteady legs when referee Steve Gray called a halt to the fight, sending the 6,000 Echo Arena crowd into a stunned silence.
“It’s disappointing but to be honest it’s not the end of the world,” Price said. “S*** happens – I know that more than anyone. I’ll come back stronger and I know everyone says that, but what happened there was more of a freak than anything. I’m not going to be too downhearted about it, even though I’m gutted. I can’t feel sorry for myself, I’ve just got to get my arse back to where I was. It might take a bit longer but I’ve got time. It’s happened to the best heavyweights over the years and with a bit of luck it might turn out to be the best thing that’s happened to me.”
Promoter Frank Maloney revealed they have the option of a rematch in Thompson’s contract. “Of course if someone beats you, you want to put it right,” Price said. “But he won the fight, let him enjoy his victory. I’m not going to start crying for a rematch.
“Frank and I will have a chat and see what’s happening and what’s best moving forward.
“I hope to get back on track for a world title but of course, it knocks me back. I’ve got to be realistic about what’s just happened. It’s a big setback. But I’ve got a good team around me and they can rebuild me.”
Maloney needed treatment from paramedics after falling ill at the venue but fears that he had suffered a heart attack have been allayed and he was recovering at home today.
Before that, the promoter said: “We’ll sit down, talk about it and decide what to do.
“We have the option in the contract for a rematch if we want to take it and we’ll see what we want to do.”
But Thompson gave short shrift to talk of a rematch.
“They can clause all the hell they want,” he said. “I’m not coming back. They vastly underpaid me for this fight and I just took it for the opportunity. I’ve now created that opportunity and, if they want to fight me again, then first of all they’ve got to come to my side of the Atlantic and then they’ve got to pay me what I’m worth.”
Thompson, who courted controversy last week by calling for doping to be allowed in sport, admitted he was tested after beating Price.
“I didn’t mind them drug testing me,” he said. “I knew there would be a lot of controversy about what I said and that they’d want to pull out the needles, jab me and poke me, even though they didn’t put it in the contract. I sat there like a good bloke and did what they asked. All they’re going to find is doughnut juice and fried chicken. There’s nothing artificial there. How could you look at this belly and think I’m on something?”
At Bethnal Green, meanwhile, a rejuvenated Audley Harrison answered some of his critics with a second-round stoppage win over Derric Rossy in the Prizefighter International Heavyweight tournament.
An Olympic gold medallist in Athens 13 years ago, Harrison had vowed to restore his fading reputation after high-profile defeats to David Haye and Price. And he unloaded a perfect left hook to knock a bloodied Rossy down towards the end of the first round.
The New York fighter could barely stand through the second round before the referee called a timely end to proceedings.
Harrison has struggled to recover his Olympic form for nearly a decade after missing a year of boxing due to a hand ligament injury suffered in 2004. But he said: “I’m feeling great. It’s been nine years in the wilderness without my mojo and, as you can see, I’ve got my mojo back. In 2012 I fell back in love with boxing and I just wanted to get back to being my best. I left all my demons in the box and I’m really optimistic about the future, finally.
“The thing about certainty is that everything is uncertain. Setbacks just pave the way for comebacks. I still think I’ve got something to give boxing.”
Harrison’s semi-final meeting with Martin Rogan of Belfast was certainly an improvement on the Wembley fighter’s opening bout, in which Denmark’s Claus Bertino walked on to a sharp left hook inside 25 seconds. Harrison, who revelled in his renewed “sharpness”, immediately turned his thoughts to Rogan who struggled to land a punch on the long-limbed 41-year-old. Rogan made several mistakes in swiping at his opponent and Harrison wore him down with a succession of solid counters, with all three judges scoring a 30-27 win for the home favourite.
Harrison said: “Rogan’s one of the toughest guys out there and I hit him with some shots that would have put most other guys down.”