David Price fights for European title in final step on his road to redemption
• BY MICHEAL MCKENNA
Pricey fights undefeated German Erkan Tepur for European crown on Friday
Liverpool heavyweight David Price
For Liverpool heavyweight David Price, Friday night’s European title showdown with Erkan Tepur represents the final step on his own personal road to redemption.
The 6’ 8” former British heavyweight champion, who takes on the undefeated German in the all city of Ludwigsburg, is not looking to forget those two devastating losses to Tony Thompson in 2013, but rather learn from his past mistakes.
Following a second consecutive defeat to the American veteran – and the Lennox Lewis circus with engulfed that particular camp – the Liverpudlian quickly took stock of everything going on around him and opted to focus on fighting under a new promoter on the continent – a move which is beginning to bear fruit. And now, the 32-year-old is ready to make his return to the top table of heavyweight boxing.
“I left as someone going on the road to rebuild and to come back a champion of Europe,” said Price. “It was always my ambition to come back to Liverpool and either defend my European title or, if another opportunity arises, have a look at that. History tells you, more often than not, the European champion goes on to fight for a world title; that’s what the long term plan is.
“For now I don’t want to spend too much time looking too far ahead as I want to enjoy every step of this journey I’m on.”
The Olympic bronze medallist has won his last four fights and feels he is now in a position to take that step back into the limelight, following a prolonged hiatus from the public eye. However, the task at hand is a sizeable jump up in quality; Tepur is a strong, durable, heavy puncher, with a decent defence and nine knockouts to his name. The giant Scouser undoubtedly has his work cut out for him.
Price said: “This will be a tough fight but it’s the right risk at the right time because in boxing you have to weigh up the risk against the reward and the Tepur fight far outweighs the risk. There are occasions when the risk outweighs the reward but this is certainly not the case.
“I’m 100 percent confident I’m going out there to win and what comes after it will be the reward. At this stage of the game you want to be involved in fights against good opponents and I think Tepur falls in to that category. I’ve been able to watch clips of him but I don’t see anything extra special so it’s definitely a very winnable fight for me. This is the fight I have been building back up towards.”
Just like Anthony Joshua now, Price was once the golden boy of the British heavyweight division and nine knockouts on the bounce – including an 80-second stoppage of Audley Harrison – enhanced that reputation, but that all came to an abrupt end.
The fanfare and expectation came crumbling down around Price following a 2013 to forget. He has since been written off – the forgotten fighter to a certain degree. And Pricey feels that it was the pressure he put on himself that he couldn’t quite deal with. He said: “After I had lost for the second time I started working with a mind coach called Terry McElhinney who helped open me up to new ideas, on how to approach things differently.
“I have since carried that on, studying how the mind works in sport; these are the things you would think a high level sportsperson would know but sometimes you’re not taught or made aware of this sort of thing.”
Despite feeling more relaxed about his career now, the Commonwealth Games gold medallist admits that he misses the pomp that came with a rapid rise through boxing’s blue-ribbon weight.
“I want that hype again,” said Price. “Hype generates interest; it’s good business but what I came to realise was that the pressure from the public or boxing fans, I couldn’t control, I could only control the pressure I put on myself. I was putting too much of it on my shoulders.”
The road to redemption may be complete should he become the first fighter ever from Liverpool to claim the European heavyweight crown, but this could be the start of another huge chapter in the David Price story.