Everybody, so Don King, so often sang, loves a heavyweight and the ancient master at finding, making and breaking the big men of the sport is right. David Price announced his full arrival on the heavyweight scene after just 13 fights and 82 seconds in his hometown of Liverpool on Saturday when he knocked Audley Harrison unconscious. Harrison was not just hurt, or dropped and stumbling; he was out cold, sleeping and dreaming.
If any of the best heavyweight prospects in America had silenced Harrison like Price managed, King would have been spinning his old-school Rolodex by midnight on Saturday trying to work out who he needed to befriend to get close to the kid. King was a hard man to deter, as his fabulous appearance once at a funeral of a contender's dad, which ended with him signing the kid after he had thrown himself on the coffin, proved: King had never met the dead man, so the legend goes.
If the Klitschko brothers or any of the other Eastern European fighters that have dominated the heavyweight business for nearly a decade, and stood sentinel as it has fallen from American television after an endless list of hitless mazurkas, had delivered Price's finish it would have kept them on US screens. Price's manager, Frank Maloney, the familiar man in the Union flag suit, has been fielding calls all weekend from "the Yanks".
Price was explosive, a bit wild and immediately and correctly he has been compared to a young Lennox Lewis and Gerry Cooney. Both could bang, had that Bambi look and often fell over their feet in a hurry to deliver the final punch, which is what fans want and that is what drives the heavyweight business.
Price (below) was stunning and it is too simple and lazy to dismiss Harrison as an old bum; the fallen idol of Sydney is far better than many of the men that the so-called contenders are being fed and have been fed for too long.
A closer look at the list of guaranteed losers padding the manufactured records of most heavyweight contenders is depressing. Harrison is better than the last two opponents of Manny Charr and Mariusz Wach. However, ignore the awful opponents because Charr was gifted a world title fight with Vitali Klitschko last month – he was stopped without throwing a punch – and Wach gets his chance for the title against Wladimir Klitschko next month. Both fights, it seems, make cash-common sense and it was also King who said: "In boxing you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate." It's a business and on Saturday night Harrison was good business for Price.
The path forward is not as straightforward as people think. There are a dozen men Price could fight and beat and learn from, but most would demand too much money. Maloney is not in the business of losing money and neither is Price, who has a share in the promotional upside. An 8 December fight against the former British champion Matt Skelton is a possibility and the reality is that at six weeks' notice it would be very hard to import a bigger name, even if a cash deal could be done.
All talk of a showdown with the former champion Tyson Fury, who vacated the title to avoid Price last year, is both naïve and stupid at this point. It would be, on the evidence of Saturday's adoring fans, the most lucrative British heavyweight fight in history. Fury, you see, has a big mouth and we all like a fight with a bit of edge because it reminds us all of the Muhammad Ali glory days.
However, there was nothing even remotely sentimental about Harrison's exit on Saturday night, when 8,000 jeered his final unconscious minutes as a pro. His Sydney glory days seemed ancient as he sat bloody, dazed and confused at the feet of a new star.Reuse content