The heavyweight scene has been rather subdued since Lennox Lewis retired as undisputed world heavyweight champion in 2004. In times gone by it has been regarded as the premier weight class in boxing with the likes of Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, George Foreman and Joe Fraizer all being men who claimed the prestigious title of world heavyweight champion. Now we see the domination of the Klitschko brothers – Vitali and his younger sibling Wladimir. Although they are undeniably gifted, they do not equate to exciting boxing.
The issue has been the lack of real competition to the Ukrainian brother’s titles. David Haye is the only truly exciting fighter to make a bid to dethrone Waldimir in the summer of 2011, yet he was subsequently humbled on a rainy night in Germany. What boxing fans long for now is a true challenger to the division’s giants.
Enter the well spoken 29 year-old Liverpudlian, David Price. The 6′ 8” former Beijing Olympic bronze medalist is the current British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion. Price could provide Britain – and the world – with a genuine contender for the titles ardently held by the Klitschkos. He boasts an impressive record of 14 fights, 14 wins and 12 knockouts and has so far proven himself above domestic level.
However, despite being the undefeated British champion, Price should not be rushed into fighting the Klitschkos. Why? Because the very nature of heavyweight boxing means it will be some time before he can be considered truly ready to step up to face the dominant Ukrainians.
The is due to the fundamental issue of competition within the division. There are no truly challenging fights out there for Price which are necessary for him in order to build on his ability before challenging for the world title. He will face the faded, 45 year-old Matt Skelton in late November; which hardly offers the world class competition he is in need of. Of course there remains the prospect of fighting Tyson Fury after he vacated his British titles when Price was the mandatory challenger. Even if this match is made, Price – if he comes through – will still have to look for more experience before taking on world honours. This inevitably leads to searching through the top ten rankings, yet there lies within no-one of real stand out class for Price to face. Although this is not the ideal way to go about building his career, Price will have to suffer and take on what the depleted division has to offer.
Alternatively, Price may in fact be rushed into a big money fight for the world title by his promoter Frank Moloney. If he is, he should fair well against the iron jaw but heavy legs of older brother Vitali – although it seems likely he will leave boxing for politics later this year. Though it is unlikely Price will offer Wladimir serious problems at this early stage in the Englishman’s career. Nevertheless, Price does have concussive power in his right hand – made manifest by a beautiful right cross he lands off the back of a stiff left jab. Additionally, Price has good shot variety, a huge reach of eighty-two inches and a boxing brain attributable to his glorious amateur career. But his Ukrainian counter part has everything and more – most importantly ring experience at the highest level.
Ultimately, the question of whether Price should be rushed into competing for a world title against the current champions is debatable. Some argue he’d have a great shot at beating them, but the underlying issue is with his peers. Price will find it hard to come by sufficient challenges against the other fighters in his division – simply because their skill level remains a lot to be desired. Therefore, the lack of quality competition within the weight class in question is what perpetuates the issue of a dull heavyweight division. Price will only be sure of his own potential when we see the division flood with men as talented as he is.