Price calls on Audley to knuckle downTom Walker January 20, 2012 « Big Buck's tops World Hurdle 34 | Idowu's rival Evora out of Olympic title defence »
David Price has backed fellow heavyweight Audley Harrison to make a successful comeback, though he has warned the 40-year-old he cannot keep "riding off his talent".
Harrison will return to the ring for the first time since his embarrassing loss to David Haye when he meets Ali Adams in April. The former Olympic gold medallist came in for fierce criticism after putting in an alarmingly abject performance when he challenged for Haye's WBA heavyweight title in November 2010.
After being blown away in a humiliating third-round knockout, many questioned whether Harrison would be seen inside the ropes again. However, after more than a year out of the sport, Harrison has decided to delay his retirement and attempt to repair his damaged reputation.
And, speaking to ESPN, Price - who takes on John McDermott in a British heavyweight title final eliminator in Liverpool on Saturday - said he felt Harrison had no option but to step back in the ring.
"He had to come back," he told ESPN. "He couldn't go out on that last performance. He would never have been able to live with himself if he had hung up his gloves on the back of that last performance. He would have always had that one regret. Hopefully he can come back and perform better, I always expected him to come back."
Much was expected of Harrison after he won Olympic gold in Sydney in 2000. However, five defeats in 32 professional bouts later and the man many tipped to follow in the footsteps of Lennox Lewis and become the top heavyweight on the planet has suffered a dramatic fall from grace.
Part of the problem - according to Price - is that Harrison, for all his talent, has not worked hard enough to make the most of his natural ability.
"He's talented but at 40 it shouldn't come down to talent anymore," Price said. "At 40 you should be a seasoned, experienced campaigner who is ready to pack up and retire. But Audley's still riding off his talent at 40.
"He's got talent and experience but yet still can't seem to put it to use. It could be down to the pressure he's been under since he won Olympic gold. That may have taken its toll on him."
Price, who is undefeated in 11 pro fights, won bronze at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and the 28-year-old says he feels some sympathy for Harrison, whom he feels has come under constant scrutiny following his Games' success.
"For me personally, I think everything happens for a reason," he added. "I won bronze at the [Beijing] Olympics; it took the pressure off me when I turned pro, it allowed me to slip under the radar a little bit. I'm starting to get noticed more now but I didn't have to put up with that [media expectation]. It must be hard to cope with that pressure."
David Price trains & fights using Lonsdale boxing apparel & equipment. www.lonsdale.com