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British Scene: David Price vs Tony Thompson Preview

Scott Heavey

David Price continues his seemingly unstoppable march towards a world title fight this Saturday night when he takes on veteran American Tony Thompson at the Echo Arena, Liverpool.

The fight is another small step-up for the amiable Scouser. Thompson is clearly past his best and is there for the taking but, compared to Audley Harrison and a 73 year old Matt Skelton, he’s not that bad an opponent.

At his best Thompson was a decent operator, not world class but not far off. His defence is good, he’s reasonable offensively and has respectable punch power. His stamina was also better than most heavyweights in his prime, although one senses that may be a thing of the past given his age and lack of activity in the past couple of years.

The big questions are how much does Thompson have left and how hungry is he. He’s talked of retirement both before and after his recent loss to Wladimir Klitschko and in the build-up to this bout - that’s never a good sign. If he’s going into the fight with one eye on retirement, or even worse, just turning up for the pay packet, then he’ll get taken out very quickly and most likely very brutally. Price doesn’t do second chances; one slip-up by an opponent usually results in them being flat on their back.

Price has said that he’s prepared for the fight as if this was a prime Thompson turning up. Sometimes it’s easy to dismiss a statement like that, because let’s face it, no boxer is going to say anything different. However, you get the impression Price means it. He is incredibly professional; I’ve never seen Price look in anything other than top shape, even when he’s not got a fight lined up.

We’ve yet to see Price in a hard fight where he has to take some shots and dig deep to get a result. There’s no doubt in my mind about his stamina, he’s incredibly fit and should last the pace well. The solidity of his chin remains to be seen, although to call him chinny, like some people already have, is more than a touch premature. Price was hurt several times as an amateur and was stopped on a couple of occasions but thus far in his pro career he’s not needed a solid chin.

The time will come when he’ll need to take a heavy shot, then we’ll see what his chin is made of. Until then, all we have is either a gut instinct or, at best, an educated guess. It’s going to be a case of wait and see. One thing I will say is that Price seems to have tightened his defence up since his amateur days – the hands are a touch higher, his chin kept lower, that will serve him well as he moves towards the bigger fights.

One hopes Thompson can land a few shots early, if that happens, then he may grow in confidence and have a real go at Price. He would most probably still get levelled at some point but it’d make the fight more entertaining for the fans and would provide Price with a much needed test.

Unfortunately, the impression Thompson has given in the build-up suggests that the fight may be over rather quickly. One can envisage Thompson trying his luck in the opening round or two before deciding to go into survival mode. Price knows that Wlad stopped Thompson in the sixth round last July and will have that in the back of his mind. Subconsciously I’m sure Price will want beat that and the smart bet is for him to do just that, with a fourth or fifth round stoppage looking the most likely.

The pick of the undercard sees Kevin Satchell make the first defences of his British and Commonwealth flyweight titles. He faces the Belfast’s Luke Wilton in what could be an entertaining if one-sided fight.

Wilton, 13-2-1 (7 KO’s), is usually in good fights, his aggressive come forward style and bodypunching makes for easy watching. It has to be said that he’s faced pretty poor opposition thus far in his career, Satchell is a huge leap in class and Wilton’s aggressive style might not be as effective against someone of that class.

Local lad Satchell has looked impressive in his past couple of outings, outgunning and stopping both Paul Edwards and Chris Edwards. Those are the only stoppage victories on his 9-0 record – it may be that he hits a tad harder than that record suggests. His punches aren’t lethal but they seem to have an accumulative effect, with the championship distance suiting his busy style.

The action could be fast and furious, but the far superior Satchell should be in control throughout and will most likely force a late stoppage.

e-mail Dave Oakes

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