(Tony Thompson, left, wallops David Price, right)
American heavyweight Tony Thompson hauled himself off the canvas to score a second consecutive TKO over David Price on Saturday – this time halting the British and Commonwealth champion on his feet with a cannonade in round 5. Thompson had declared pre-fight that he intended to walk straight to Price and beat him up and that is precisely what unfolded before an Echo Arena audience left horror-stricken for the second time in six months.
Price, West Derby, Merseyside, set up to box carefully from behind a tight guard. Thompson, though, used his southpaw right to nullify the home favorite’s jab (which he fidgeted with) and intelligent footwork to pressure him into expending energy. After a tentative opening round, Thompson began to bear down on an opponent wholly unfamiliar with the art of defending. Panicked at being cuffed and manhandled in close, Price had little alternative other than to attack and he made Thompson list with his pet punch – the straight right. Overanxious, Price ended up bundling the 41-year-old over to the canvas, and when the action recommenced, he landed a heavy right that glanced off the incoming Thompson’s left ear and laid him out full-length on the mat — his head resting on the bottom rope.
The contest looked to be at an end at that point yet Thompson rose obstinately as the count reached eight and despite mentor Lennox Lewis’s exhortations from ringside, Price hesitated for a millisecond and the visitor escaped.
Price, 15-2 (13), landed another booming right at the beginning of the 3rd that flung the Washington DC man backwards into the ropes. Thompson – filmed warbling along to Lionel Richie while warming up in his dressing room — remained the epitome of calm during such perilous moments whereas Price appeared wholly uncomfortable whenever the older man struck back. At the round’s mid-point, Thompson, 38-3 (26), commenced a concerted body assault that winded Price and precipitated his undoing. Both boxers, though, meandered back to their stools on spaghetti legs after an enthralling session.
Thompson (18st 7lb) gradually took command from thereon in. Price (17st 12 lb) continued to fire back gamely but almost caved in towards the end of round 4 after a right uppercut and two meaty body shots sucked the fight right out of him. The popular native — who showed a sturdy enough chin this time around — took an extended hiding in the 5th. Unable to hold — a rudimentary skill he had never had cause to learn — Price absorbed around forty unanswered punches before third man Marcus McDonnell rushed to his rescue — administering a standing eight count before calling time on a completely spent Price at 1:55.
Nothing tires a fighter like being repeatedly punched in the face and Price, 30, must correct his defensive frailties if he hopes to improve. Thompson meanwhile suggested he could relocate to the UK. A likeable man, he would be welcomed.