- Steve Bunce
Experience the long and short of it for PriceSteve Bunce February 12, 2013
Saturday is the biggest fight night of the year in the UK. It will certainly the biggest of David Price's career to date as he faces veteran American Tony Thompson in Liverpool - one man desperate for experience, the other relying on it.
Price is a special talent and will beat Thompson, and he will look good doing it, whether the fight goes long or short - but that word experience is key. To put it in context, Price is undefeated in 15 fights but has boxed just 39 rounds in his professional career. At the age of 41, Thompson has had as many fights as Price has rounds, winning 36 and losing just three.
I've known Pricey a long, long time, and he and I disagree on one thing about his career: I think he needs the rounds, but he says he gets them in the gym. In my mind there's no substitute for proper rounds in the ring. Pricey thinks that there is a replacement, in the form of really hard rounds in training. So we agree to disagree on that.
His opponent on Saturday night knows all about the value of experience. Twice Thompson has been in with Wladimir Klitschko - the first time, in 2008, he put on such a good performance before his11th-round knockout that he was offered a second fight last year.
He found himself overhauled quite quickly in the rematch, and left the ring in a state of shock. I spoke to Thompson both before and after that fight. Going in, like all fighters, he knew it would be hard but truly believed he could beat Klitschko. "I'm going to learn from the previous fight," he told me. "I know some of the things I'm going to work on, I've seen some shortfalls in what he does and I think I can do it."
After the fight Thompson was left stunned by the way Klitschko prevented him from getting started. He had to admit that Klitschko had improved his game to take him out of there quicker - and he was duly taken out. Thompson thought he'd learnt enough from the first fight, but Klitschko had learnt more; the Klitschko brothers have great boxing brains.
Thompson is taking a calculated risk by fighting Price. He's been treading water waiting for a payday, and while he's not earning retirement money he also knows a win would prove that he's still got some fight left in him. He could end up getting himself a shot at Alexander Povetkin's WBA regular heavyweight world title, or even Vitali Klitschko. That's why he poses a risk for Price - not a massive risk, and certainly a justifiable risk.
I think Wladimir Klitschko was being very kind to Thompson by calling it a 50-50 fight at the weekend - I'd call in more like a 70-30. Then again, I would classify most of Wladimir's defences as somewhere between 95-5 and 90-10 - perhaps the David Haye fight was a 70-30. So you can imagine Wladimir Klitschko believes anything mildly competitive constitutes a slugfest!
If David Price was to win but not look great doing it I don't think that's a disaster. He wants to get in there in front of 9,000 scousers in the Echo Arena, which will be brilliant, and knock Tony Thompson out in a round. That would be a job well done in his eyes - but if he were to get 12 rounds I'd be the first to tell him 'there you go Pricey, that's what you needed'.
Isn't it great to disagree over something like that?
We spoke to Price ahead of the fight on this week's episode of Buncey's Boxing Podcast, the UK's finest boxing podcast if we do say so ourselves. He is talking very positively about a fight with Tyson Fury - and sooner rather than later. Also this week we spoke with Natasha Jonas, who hasn't fought since the Olympics, as she looks ahead to incredible things in 2014. British female boxers will be in action at the European championships, world championships and - for the first time - the Commonwealth Games, and after that she'll know the contenders for Rio 2016.