Three quick thoughts from David Price’s 82-second knockout of Audley Harrison on Saturday night in Liverpool …
It didn’t prove much, but Price did exactly what he needed to do. The new hope in British heavyweight boxing proved coldly efficient against Harrison, the 2000 Olympic gold medalist whose professional career has failed to realize once-great expectations. A thudding straight right exploded on Harrison’s chin less than a minute into the fight, triggering a punishing flurry capped by a right hook that sent the 40-year-old crashing to the canvas with a broken nose and concussion. Thus Price (14-0, 12 KOs), who turned pro after winning Olympic bronze in 2008 and captured the vacant British heavyweight title last year, passed the first real challenge of his career — a devastating showing that required less time than his spine-tingling ringwalk to “You’ll Never Walk Alone” which electrified the sellout crowd of 8,000 at Liverpool’s Echo Arena. The general thinking is the 29-year-old Price is too raw and inexperienced to challenge Wladimir or Vitali Klitschko, the brothers who collectively rule the division. But given the dearth of fresh challengers at heavyweight and Price’s formidable size — at 6-foot-8, 245 pounds, he’s one of the few contenders who can look down at the champions — many within boxing are bullish on the Liverpudlian’s chances to one day inherit the title. “I think he’d beat the klitchkos now,” tweeted Ricky Hatton after the fight.
It’s time for Harrison to retire. The faded veteran getting served up to the young lion is a tradition as old as boxing itself, and Saturday’s latest episode was no less cruel. Many had called for Harrison (28-6, 21 KOs) to quit the sport in 2010, after he capitulated so weakly in a third-round knockout loss to David Haye in which he threw just one punch. Those suggestions will only intensify after Harrison was booed from the ring Saturday night, a desultory farewell for a fighter who fell from national hero to figure of public ridicule during a 12-year career marked by mystifying underachievemnt. “If I lose to David Price, I’ve got no future,” Price had said this week. “It’s over for me as a professional fighter if I lose to David Price. This is my door. This is the door I have to walk through. This is the last-chance saloon for me and I would not want it any other way.” After a showing that couldn’t have been any less competitive, Harrison’s decision should be easy.
Price should fight Tyson Fury. Though Price is tentatively slated to return on December 8 against Matt Skelton (who won on Saturday’s undercard), Frank Maloney, who promotes the Liverpudlian, wasted no time in calling out British compatriot Tyson Fury in the aftermath of Saturday’s laugher. Maloney offered £500,000 to Fury (19-0, 14 KOs), who last year vacated the British heavyweight title rather than face Price, who was the mandatory challenger. Since then, Fury has appeared to change his tune, prodding Price and campaigning for the bout via social media. (“He needs to get off the Twitter, stop Twittering and take this fight,” Maloney said.) Less than an hour later, Fury responded in a foul-mouthed TV interview with Channel 5 from ringside during the James DeGale-Hadillah Mohoumadi bout, expressing his willingness to make a fight the public wants to see, one that could potentially fill a stadium in the U.K. “I’ll fight David Price any day of the week,” Fury chirped. “It’s personal between me and you and I’m going to do you some serious harm, you big stiff idiot.”
– Bryan Armen Graham