David Price Destroyed Audley Harrison, but He's Not a Contender Just Yet

Shaun GregoryCorrespondent IOctober 18, 2012

David Price Destroyed Audley Harrison, but He's Not a Contender Just Yet

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    British heavyweight prospect and former Olympic bronze-medal winner David Price destroyed fellow Olympian Audley Harrison in just 82 seconds this past weekend.

    On the back of that victory, Price's domination of the heavyweight division has been heavily predicted.

    With the state of the heavyweight division being a talking point amongst fans and the media ever since Lennox Lewis retired and the Klitschko brothers took a stranglehold on the division, people have been looking for a "saviour" for boxing's flagship division.

    Is David Price that saviour, or are people reading too much into his recent victory?

Audley Is the Biggest Scalp to Date!

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    Before we all get carried away with ourselves, Price beat Audley Harrison.

    Come on, people! That's not the type of victory, no matter how devastating, to bring about declarations of greatness.

    With all due respect to Harrison's achievements as an amateur, during which time he captured the Commonwealth Gold at Super Heavyweight in 1998 and followed that up in 2000 with the Olympic gold medal, he has not been up to par as a professional.

    In fact his achievements, or lack thereof, have led to names such as Fraudley and A-Farce (in response to Harrison's A-Force nickname).

    As a professional Harrison, has achieved a couple of wins over domestic opposition, avenging his losses to Danny Williams (whose claim to fame is knocking out a faded Mike Tyson) and Michael Sprott. The victory over Williams impressed some, and for the first time Audley showed a fire that many had hoped to see for years.

    However, Williams was known for blowing hot and cold, and was one of those fighters who could show up and appear to be world-class, or not worthy of club-fighter status. Williams' up-and-down form takes the gloss off that victory.

    The victory over Sprott should be commendable only because Audley once again obtained vengeance for a prior defeat. Sprott is hardly the most capable of opponents, and had already been defeated 14 times prior to losing to Harrison.

    Plus, Sprott had dominated Harrison throughout the fight, who had injured his shoulder early on, before finally being knocked out in the final seconds by a last-ditch Harrison punch.

    After defeating Sprott and claiming the European title in the process, Harrison managed to negotiate a fight with then-WBA heavyweight champion David Haye. Their bout turned out to be a total farce, consisting of Audley running from Haye for three rounds before being blown out in the fourth round.

    So to proclaim Price as the future of the heavyweight division on the basis of an 82-second knockout of a man who rarely puts up a fight, especially if his opponent has any punching power, is incredibly short sighted to me.

    Price did not show us he had the ability to establish continued dominance, he didn't have to defend himself and he didn't have to execute a game plan. He simply knocked out a guy who was afraid of being hit.

Established Heavyweight Competition

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    Proclamations that David Price will be taking over the heavyweight division on the back of defeating Audley Harrison is a great injustice to the boxers currently competing at heavyweight.

    In spite of the dominance the Klitschko brothers have shown at heavyweight, there are still a string of established boxers who have proven themselves to be worthy contenders, unlike Price.

    These fighters have actually faced, and defeated, top competition in the heavyweight ranks, thus not basing their prowess on defeating Audley Harrison.

     

    Tomasz Adamek

    The tough and durable Polish fighter Adamek has faced ranked heavyweight opposition since moving up from cruiserweight, challenged a Klitschko brother for a title, and has only been on the losing end once at heavyweight (twice in total in his career), losing his title challenge to Vitali Klitschko in 2011.

    Adamek has defeated fighters such as Chris Arreola, Michael Grant, Kevin McBride and Eddie Chambers. You have to admit that those are a more impressive list than anything Audley Harrison can bring to the table.

    When losing to Vitali Klitschko, Adamek managed to hang in for 10 rounds with the champion, and tried to get inside Klitschko's jab and fight wherever possible.

     

    Alexander Povetkin

    WBA (Regular) champion Alexander Povetkin, doesn't have the same list of impressive victories as Adamek, but has scored wins over former world-title holders Ruslan Chagaev and Hasim Rahman, as well as defeated WBO Cruiserweight champion Marco Huck in a heavyweight bout earlier in 2012. Povetkin was the Olympic gold-medal winner at the 2004 games and holds an undefeated record as a professional.

     

    Eddie Chambers

    "Fast" Eddie Chambers has challenged for a world title, defeated Samuel Peter and gone the distance with both Povetkin and Adamek.

    His fight against Adamek was particularly impressive, as he fought almost the entire bout with an injured left arm and still looked the more impressive fighter. He was more accurate punching and had a higher punch rate, even one-handed. In spite of losing a contentious decision, Chambers showed that he is still a quality heavyweight.

Fringe Challengers

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    The heavyweight division also has a number of fighters on the fringes of contention.

    Fighters who may have challenged for titles, then dropped from prominence, or fighters who have been highly touted by the media and stagnated for whatever reason.

    These fighters have also faced opposition superior to Audley Harrison, yet proclamations of greatness are for some reason is still going to Price.

     

    Chris Arreola

    Arreola challenged Vitali Klitschko for the WBC title in 2009 after punching his way to prominence with a series of stoppages through his previous 15 fights.

    While Arreola's rise through the rankings was stopped in a dominant display by Klitschko, Arreola won a lot of fans with the heart he displayed in trying to bring the fight to Vitali, despite being crushed with huge blows throughout.

    Since that defeat, Arreola has dropped from the radar somewhat. After winning his first bout following the title challenge, Arreola then dropped a close decision to Adamek, again showing great heart by looking for the knockout he needed to win, despite of grimacing in obvious pain from a hand injury.

    Over the past 2 years, Arreola has seemed a much more dedicated fighter, coming into fights in better shape than in the past, appearing to have improved his stamina and showing more control in his boxing than previously.

    If Arreola maintains the same dedication, he could once again rise in the rankings to challenge for a title, as he is ranked in the top 10 for all four major world titles.

     

    Robert Helenius

    Oddly inactive since his lackluster victory over Britain's Dereck Chisora, Finnish heavyweight Robert Helenius was once touted as the main threat to the Klitschko brothers.

    Being close to the Klitschkos in height, boxing well behind his jab and having the instinct to go in for the kill after stunning an opponent, Helenius seemed to be on a collision course for a title shot, until his dreadful performance against Chisora led to Vitali Klitschko giving Chisora the shot.

    Helenius needs to get back in the ring, and back to the dominant performances he displayed with stoppages over Samuel Peter and Siarhei Liakhovich in 2011, in order to regain the momentum that would have granted him a chance at a strap.

     

    David Haye

    Why would I include David Haye in the fringe-contender slide when established heavyweights were in the previous one?

    Well, as much as I like David Haye, and feel that if he brought his best to a bout with the Klitschkos he has the best chance of anyone to defeat them, he is just one fight back from his early retirement.

    In that return fight, he defeated Dereck Chisora. Prior to that he was on the couch, and before that he lost to Wladimir Klitschko after defeating the one-and-only Audley Harrison.

    I cannot say what I say about Price not being worthy of the accolades after knocking out Audley Harrison, and then place Haye higher up than the fringes, when his most recent victories are against Audley and Chisora.

    Haye, however, has displayed the ability to hold his own with quality heavyweights. He did, after all, go all-12 rounds with Wladimir Klitschko, which is more than many manage.

    Haye is a talented boxer, with incredible power in both hands. If he actually brings the fight to the Klitschkos, his combination of hand speed and explosive power will cause them problems.

    The cat-and-mouse act he played with Wladimir, however, drops him back to fringe-contender status, as he appeared to be afraid to engage.

Heavyweight Prospects

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    David Price would appear on this list of heavyweight prospects, had he not already been declared the future champion.

    Price is an intriguing prospect in the heavyweight division, bringing height, power and athleticism to the weight class. However, he isn't the only prospect at heavyweight, and isn't the most advanced in his career as are other prospects.

     

    Seth Mitchell

    Mitchell has given US boxing fans something to get excited about in the heavyweight division.

    After years of dominance by European heavyweights, and the lack of quality American fighters the likes of Rahman, Briggs and Thompson, boxing fans see a potential star-in-the-making in Mitchell.

    While some of you may point to the fact that Mitchell is 25 fights into his professional career and Price is only 14, and thus Mitchell should be facing tougher opposition, you miss out on one important factor: Price had an extensive amateur boxing career prior to turning pro, whereas Mitchell fought 10 amateur bouts only following his college graduation.

    Mitchell is essentially still learning how to box in professional boxing bouts.

    Mitchell has stepped up his level of competition in his last couple of fights, dispatching Timur Ibragimov and Chazz Witherspoon in 2012. He is scheduled to face fellow American Heavyweight Jonathon Banks in November in a WBC Semi-Final Eliminator.

    While the highly-touted prospect David Price has just knocked out a 40-year-old Audley Harrison and lined up a fight with a 45-year-old British boxer for December, Mitchell has just stopped a fighter on the fringes of the upper tier (albeit clinging to the fringes) and is stepping up into WBC eliminators.

     

    Denis Boytsov

    Muscular, compact, aggressive and powerful, Boytsov drew comparisons to Mike Tyson early on, due to his come-forward boxing style, impressive hand speed and punching power.

    However, he has stagnated in his level of opponent of late, appearing content to knock out journeymen rather than take that next step.

    I considered leaving Boytsov off this list because of this lower quality of opposition, but decided to add him in, because if defeating Audley Harrison can get you accolades, then Boytsov at least still deserves to be considered a top prospect.

    He is, after all, 31-0 in his career, with 25 knockouts.

     

    Deontay Wilder

    Deontay is another I struggled to put on this lis,t because of his very slow progression through the rankings.

    A bronze medalist at the 2008 Olympics, along with Price, Deontay has fought 25 professional bouts and won them all by knockout. Tall, extremely powerful and with decent amateur pedigree, Wilder needs to make the step up in competition now.

    I decided to add Wilder to the list in spite of the lack of higher-quality competition because of his age. At 26 years old, Wilder is three years younger than Price and therefore has more time to "find himself" before he peaks.

    Price will turn 30 next year, and needs to make the jump in competition sooner than Wilder.

    Yet, he is signed up to face a 45-year-old fighter in his next outing.

     

    Anthony Joshua

    My last entry in this category is a boxer who has yet to step foot in the professional ring.

    While there are a number of other young prospects the world over—and I studied a large number of them—I decided to add Joshua as a wild-card entry.

    To my knowledge, Joshua hasn't even announced his intention to turn pro yet, following his Olympic gold medal in this summer's games in London. So why add a fighter who hasn't even turned pro yet?

    Well, my thinking has to do with Joshua's achievements in a short time frame. At 22 years of age, Joshua has only been boxing for four years. In those four years, he has managed a silver medal in the World Amateur Boxing Championships in 2011 and followed that up with a gold in the Olympics.

    That is an incredible achievement for somebody who didn't even take up the sport until he turned 18.

    Joshua may choose to carry on as an amateur and defend his gold in 2016. After all, he will only be 26 years old by that time and will have plenty of time to take a shot at the professional ranks.

    However, if Joshua decides to turn pro, you have to wonder how quickly he can progress through the rankings with the right management.

    He obviously has the dedication to go from a late-starter to a gold medalist, so to turn pro and set off like a rocket isn't out of the question.

The Tyson Fury Factor

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    I could have added Fury to the prospects slide, as that's what he is, still feeling his way through the division.

    However, I felt that given the bad blood between him and Price, Fury deserved his own slide.

    Fury and Price do not like each other. Price himself states that fact in this article. They have known each other since competing against one another as amateurs.

    Fury has made claims to getting the better of Price repeatedly in sparring him, and has labelled him as "chinny" after claiming he floored him in a training bout. However, Price defeated a then-18-year-old Fury in a 2006 national championship bout, and was also chosen for the British Olympic team ahead of Fury for 2008.

    Both began their professional careers in close succession, Fury in late 2008 and Price in early 2009. Both are British heavyweight boxers who at 6'8" and 6'9" are giants of the division. Both have been touted as potential champions.

    That's where the comparisons end as both are very different men.

    Fury puts everything out there. He is outspoken, supremely confident and does occasionally seem to speak before he thinks, but that adds to the genuine and honest nature he puts forth.

    Price, on the other hand, is a much quieter and calmer character. Just as genuine-looking as Fury, but much more unassuming. Price seems to go about his business quietly and make the obligatory comments before and after fights.

    In the ring, they are also very different from what we have seen so far.

    Price appears to have the edge when it comes to power. The only opponent both men have faced to date is John McDermott, with whom Fury went to a 10th round decision in their first fight and stopped in the ninth round in their second.

    Price, however, stopped McDermott in the first when they fought.

    But Fury has shown us that he is capable of taking victories from long fights, having gone to the eighth round or beyond five times, while Price has never been past the seventh round.

    In his fights with Chisora and Pajkic, Fury showed a heart that we have yet to see from Price. Chisora came into the contest looking to land heavy blows on Fury, and Fury had to dig deep and weather those flurries to be victorious.

    Pajkic put Fury on the deck for the first time in his pro career, which can be disconcerting, but Fury showed the strength of character to pick himself up, make the necessary adjustments and move past it to win the fight.

    Price has yet to be in trouble in a bout, but is that because he is a better boxer, or because he has yet to face the caliber of opposition Fury has?

    That level of competition has seen Fury step into the ring with a man who went 12 rounds with Vitali Klitschko, and with a man who defeated a younger and fresher Audley Harrison, Martin Rogan.

    While Fury's opponent selection since the Chisora fight has angered some fans, he has definitely faced a higher caliber of fighter than Price.

    Now that the war of words between them has increased and both fighters have called the other one out, we will hopefully be able to see the two of them face off sooner rather than later.

    Fights born out of hatred have the potential of turning into dirty wars, but also can become instant classics.

    The Fury matter needs to be put to rest before anybody can make any claims about Price.

    One thing is for certain, Fury won't lie down in the manner Harrison did, and to be victorious, Price will have to fight like he has not yet had to as a professional.

Conclusion

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    As far as I'm concerned, the jury is still out on Price.

    Defeating Audley Harrison in such an easy manner tells me nothing. He defeated a washed-up fighter who was really never anything but a hyped club-fighter as a professional. Price did not have to dig deep into either his skill or heart reserves to defeat Audley.

    In spite of claims that there is no competition in the heavyweight division, there is plenty of good talent coming through. Those already established within the division will provide a stiff test to the youngsters, and prospects coming through the ranks will look to make that step up.

    When you look at the slow progression of many of the prospects, you have to ask, why? The reason why is because they know the gap between the guys they're fighting and the likes of Adamek, Povetkin, Helenius and Haye is much greater than in the past.

    The old gatekeepers of the division are gone, and now there is a no-man's-land in the middle. Up-and-comers progress slowly through the journeymen and club-level fighters, then have to be ready to make a huge jump to compete against the top-10 guys.

    Price's place is definitely within the pack of prospects coming through, but until he starts to make the jump in competition, he is not at the head of the pack.

    Seth Mitchell is currently leading the prospects in the next generation, as he is the only one who seems truly willing to make that leap.

    Tyson Fury has spoken of seeking a top-10 opponent for his next fight in December, and if he makes that happen, he's also steps ahead of Price.

    For Price, the time to take that next step is now. He is slated to face 45-year-old Matt Skelton on December 8, in a fight that is at best a sideways step from Harrison. I think he should scrap the Skelton idea and step in with Fury right away.

    Fury and Price are both slated to fight in early December, so why not fight each other?

    They are better competition for each other than the stiffs they've been facing in their last few outings.