David Price is on a mission to rule the heavyweight world as Phil Kirkbride talks to the Liverpool giant
AS world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitshcko repeatedly landed punches on the face of challenger Marius Wach in Hamburg last month, David Price was making mental notes.
But there has been a shift in the thinking of this giant Liverpool man.
Where he previously looked at the Ukrainian as a blueprint, Price was now looking at ways he could bring Klitshcko down.
Twelve months ago he needed convincing that he had the attributes and ability to claim one of sport’s golden prizes but after a breakthrough year, in which he has claimed British, Commonwealth and English titles, Price sees no reason why not.
On Friday night he defends those British and Commonwealth belts for the second time when Matt Skelton, a man hardened by over a decade in the sport, meets him in the ring at the Equestrian Centre, Aintree.
On current form Price, who took just 82 seconds to leave Audley Harrison prostrate on the Echo Arena canvas last month, will be expected to dispatch Skelton swiftly this week and move towards more significant fights in 2013.
After just 14 paid fights since leaving amateur boxing with an Olympic bronze medal, Price would traditionally be still some way off a tilt at the world title.
But heavyweight boxing moves quicker these days and Price knows the opportunity to take on either Vitali or Wladimir may come sooner rather than later.
Price won’t be pressured into accepting such a fight but can feel himself edging closer to being ready.
“A fight with one of the Klitshckos is coming closer to being a reality,” he said.
“In the past I’ve studied them to add to my own game because of their similarities and styles but now I’m looking at them as a potential opponent and seeing what I could do to beat them.
“It has changed how I’ve looked at them.
“I believe I’m top five in the world, behind the two Klitshckos, David Haye and Kubrat Pulev, the Bulgarian.”
Price was ringside on Saturday night as the curtain came down on the career of Ricky Hatton.
He left Manchester with mixed emotions; disappointed that one of the most loved of all British boxers has finally calling it quits, but also inspired to pick up his mantle.
Price believes his 6’8” frame can fill the void left by the ‘Hitman’.
“On Saturday, one of the reasons I wanted Ricky to win was, not just for himself, but also because boxing needs someone like him, who can create that type of buzz and atmosphere,” he said.
“If I can keep building my fan base like I am then I don’t see why I can’t do something similar.
“People like a down to earth champion who is a regular person. I feel I could be that man though a lot of fighters are down to earth.
“But heavyweight boxing creates a different type of buzz and if I keep doing what I’m doing then I could potentially have that type of fan base.”
Hatton took legions of fans over to Las Vegas for some of his biggest nights; most did not have a ticket for the fight but just wanted to be in the same city.
Boxing in one of those giant casinos in the desert remains the golden ticket for any fighter.
If Price were to one day fight there he would likely need an American in the other corner but earlier this month, their latest heavyweight hope fell by the wayside.
Seth Mitchell, who turned to boxing when injury wrecked his American Football career, was stopped in two rounds by compatriot Johnaton Banks in Atlantic City this month.
Mitchell is by no means finished but showed sufficient frailties and flaws to suggest he has found his level.
Once the heartbeat of the division, America has known too many false dawns in recent years but will continue to put their faith in Banks, or any number of their unbeaten big men, until they find what they are looking for.
Price, though, is losing belief he will find much of a challenge in the States.
“Without a doubt the future of the heavyweight division will be in Europe,” he said.
“And it is a shame really because it is good to have an American interest because it creates more interest over there and more revenue for the fight.
“It’s shame and it looks like that’s going to be the case unless Deontay Wilder, who looks a decent fighter, comes up with something then I believe the future of the division will remain in Europe.
“Of course, I won’t mind that as long as I’ve got something to do with it.”
Price has the world at his sized 13 feet and admits, albeit with caution, that he does think about reaching the very top.
“Of course, you have got to dream,” he said.
“You have got to have your goals and your short-term targets.
“But the term ‘dream’ is starting to come into the ‘goal’ category and that is to become heavyweight champion of the world. Once what was a dream is becoming closer to a reality.
“But there is still a lot of work to do.”
Tickets for Price v Skelton are available on 0844 8000 400 or by visiting www.frankmaloney.com.