David Price's career was left in dire straits tonight after he suffered a second defeat to Tony Thompson just five months after being blown away by the American in their first fight.
The Liverpudlian heavyweight had been working his way towards a world title shot when Thompson floored and stopped him to wreck his unbeaten record in February.
Price, who turned 30 today, had hoped to avenge that loss and get his career back on track at the Liverpool Echo Arena tonight.
But Thompson proved his first win was no fluke, carefully but emphatically taking Price apart before bludgeoning him into a fifth-round stoppage.
Price had been 15-0 with 13 knockouts until a right hook behind the ear from Thompson in the second round sent him sprawling and unable to recover.
He chased an immediate rematch with the 41-year-old two-time world title challenger and promoter Frank Maloney delivered the goods by securing him the chance to exact quick revenge.
Thompson, with a record of 37-3 (25KOs), accepted the invitation and the chance to prove his blow-out of Price was no fluke.
This time around, 6ft 8ins Price had a little help in the form of former undisputed heavyweight king Lennox Lewis, who worked closely with the Scouser in his preparations for the rematch.
Understandably, Price started cautiously. Thompson landed a good southpaw left early on but when the Briton did throw, he was landing, with two decent right hands towards the end of the opening round.
The second began with much more action as Price thudded home two right hands which Thompson took well. Another two landed as the pair got tangled up at close quarters.
Thompson was having success of his own, though, closing the distance well to land shots but sometimes smothering his own work. A left hook by Price hurt the American for the first time as he waded in at last before throwing Thompson over.
A right hand as Thompson bent forward sent the Washington DC man crumpling to the canvas but he did well to rise to his feet at referee Marcus McDonnell's count of nine before the bell saved him.
Price's confidence was growing and another right had Thompson struggling on the ropes. 'The Tiger' fought back but was rocked by a left uppercut. Thompson landed a glancing uppercut of his own and a left which Price dealt with late in the third.
The veteran landed another good uppercut early in the fourth as Price's momentum waned as he looked to be tiring and a graze appeared over his right eye.
He was hurt by a right hook to the body and looked in danger before the bell signalled the end of the round.
Price was taking too many shots as he let Thompson fire at will. Several hooking rights and lefts had him in bother and the end looked imminent. Trapped in the corner, he took a standing count after several big shots when really the fight should have been stopped.
McDonnell looked into Price's eyes and after seeing the effect of countless heavy power shots, the referee waved it off.
On the undercard, London-based Bristol fighter Darren Hamilton retained his British light-welterweight title with a unanimous decision win against Adil Anwar.
Local lad Kevin Satchell got off the canvas to keep his British flyweight belt with a close points win over Scotland's Iain Butcher.
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