Danny Winterbottom from ringside
They said it would be over in double quick time and that a right hand would finish the job. But nobody expected the recipient to be local favourite David Price who crashed to a shocking second round defeat at the hands of American veteran Tony Thompson inside a stunned Echo Arena in Liverpool.
Price (17st 9lbs) had smashed his way to the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles scoring 13 inside the distance wins on his way to building a 15-0 record and Thompson, a 41-year-old native of Washington D.C who had shared a ring twice with Wladimir Klitschko, was seen as a gatekeeper to the world stage for the likeable 29-year-old Scouser. But this is heavyweight boxing and anything can happen.
Thompson (18st 10lbs) was odds on favourite to be reduced to rubble by the booming right of Price, the one that had so brutally detached Audley Harrison from his senses in this very same ring in October, but the crafty veteran was careful to stay out of harm’s way during the opening session.
Price pawed with his long jab but it was midway through the round before his trademark right found its target. Thompson smiled, pulled a face, and then got back to work as he landed a sneaky counter left as Price came in.
Thompson was proving difficult to catch clean as he lunged backwards at the waist whenever Price threatened with the right and was willing to take shots to the body in order to protect his chin.
As the pair exchanged punches in round two Price missed with an uppercut and Thompson clipped him with a counter right hand that landed directly onto the ear of Price (later revealed to have perforated his ear drum) sending him tumbling to the canvas.
Grimacing in pain Price struggled to beat the count of referee Steve Gray, somehow managing to haul his 6ft 8ins frame off the deck, but his legs did a silly dance and the Fleetwood official took one look at him and waved it off. The Arena fell into an eerie silence as Thompson celebrated wildly with his team screaming at the press row “I told you he would fall for the tricks, I told you!”
“David got caught on the ear and his ear was perforated. His balance was gone” said a sombre Frank Maloney at the post fight press conference.
“It was a freak knockout. No fighter wants to lose like that in front of their home crowd but I think he has (Price) the strength of character to come back. I think he can still be world champion, this is just a blip like when Lennox Lewis was knocked out by Oliver McCall.”
Price, who entered the press conference several minutes later after undergoing blood tests, was obviously feeling down on his luck.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet-but that’s heavyweight boxing for you” he said as he sipped from a bottle of water.
“He was looking for the counters and I dropped my left hand after missing with an uppercut. He caught me but it isn’t the end of the world.”
“My spirit is broken a little bit but I didn’t take a beating and in two or three fights time it will be history. I’ve got to accept what has happened and move on.”
Maloney revealed the contracts contained a rematch clause but was unable to confirm or deny if that option would be exercised by team Price at this stage.
“I will sit down with David and Franny to discuss what to do next, but yes a rematch is possible” he said
Chief supporting contest to the main event saw British 10st champion Darren Hamilton prove his boxing skills were at least equal to his rapping talents as he comprehensively out boxed a befuddled Steve Williams from Wallasey.
After 12 rounds Judge Steve Gray scored the bout 118-111, Paisley’s Victor Laughlin carded 119-109 and Dave Parris gave every round to the champion, turning in a card that read 120-108. Howard Foster officiated.
Williams, who defeated Karl Place in a final eliminator way back in December 2011, had been forced to wait for his chance after Hamilton’s surprise victory over Ashley Theophane and the Bristol man’s subsequent injury problems delayed the bout, but he was unable to figure out the champion’s tricky counter punching style.
Williams (9st 13lbs) needs to be on the chest of his opponents in order to land his hooks inside but Hamilton (9st 12lbs) waited for the on rushing challenger to drop his head before countering with nicely picked short uppercuts that began to redden the face of the “Wallasey Express”.
Williams showed no upper body movement and was easy target practice for the much improved champion.
Cheered on by promoter Frank Maloney from ringside Williams had the odd success to the body of Hamilton but the champion would respond with three’s and fours down the middle before moving gracefully out of range.
By midway the action was totally one sided and Hamilton began to sit down on his punches and punish Williams with right hands. The local man had no answer to the Hamilton attacks.
Puffy eyed and looking a beaten man, Williams was driven back to the ropes by a sudden change of pace by Hamilton in round 10 but showed his bravery and pride to survive a torrid session.
Hamilton cruised to victory and looks to have improved out of sight since winning the title from Ashley Theophane and a fight with Leeds’ Adil Anwar, who impressed sparring Ricky Burns up in Scotland recently, will be an intriguing contest.
Fight of the night belonged to the smallest men on the bill as Kevin Satchell defended his British and Commonwealth flyweight titles in a non-stop battle with Belfast’s Luke Wilton.
Judge Steve Gray scored the contest 119-110; Howard Foster saw the bout 119-112 and Dave Parris 118-111 all for the man from the Everton Red Triangle club in Liverpool.
Although the scores were widely in favour of the champion, Wilton (7st 13lbs) came to fight and pushed Satchell (8st) hard with clubbing blows, particularly to the body with the left hand, but it was the champion’s more accurate blows that tipped the rounds in his favour.
Wilton, who told me earlier in the week the fight would be a war, was cut over his right eye in round two but continued to drive forwards looking to land his left to the long body of Satchell.
Satchell, who dispatched former champion Chris Edwards with body shots, returned the favour downstairs as the contest became a bloody war of attrition.
Satchell, boxing in a loose style, caught several hard over hand rights from the Belfast man and suffered a nasty laceration to the corner of his right eye in round five.
With blood trickling down the side of his face Satchell began to out- strength Wilton, leaning on him in close and driving shots up the middle.
Wilton, also now bleeding from his nose, would take half the round off to gather himself then, like a storm gathering force, drive into Satchell with abandon.
Satchell was not to be denied however and forced Wilton to the ropes dishing out a two handed beating as he looked to force a stoppage in round eight. Wilton dipped low and appeared as though he was about to take a knee but threw enough on the counter to prevent referee Mike Alexander from stepping in.
The champion’s arm length posed a big problem for Wilton throughout, landing punches when the challenger thought he was out of range. Wilton proved he was a tough man to last the distance with Satchell who will be looking towards a shot at European champion Silvio Olteanu.
The rest of a packed undercard results were as follows:
In the first shock of the night Liverpool’s David Burke (10st 1lbs) returned to the ring from an eight year layoff but was brutally knocked out by the right hand of Somerset’s Dean Mills (10st 2lbs) in round two of a scheduled four threes made at welterweight.
Burke, now 38-years-old and the former WBU lightweight champion, showed glimpses of his superior skill and technique but his timing largely deserted him as the pair repeatedly clashed heads.
A huge right hand dropped Burke heavily in the fourth but he managed to beat the count and regain some of his senses as Mills struggled to find the shots to finish it. Just as it looked as though Burke would see out the final round Mills detonated a brutal right hand that put Burke to sleep. Referee Mike Alexander immediately dispensed with the count so the local favourite could be attended to. The end came at 2-20 of round four.
Louis Cuddy (14st 6lbs) from Garston scored a fourth round stoppage over import Ferenc Zsalek (14st 6lbs) in a cruiserweight contest over four threes. Mr Alexander officiated
In a welterweight four threes Birkenhead’s Sean Lewis (10st 9lbs) gave away weight to Scotland’s Craig Kelly (11st 3lbs) but the “Ginger Mexican” eked out a 39-38 victory on the scorecard of Steve Gray and moved to 4-0.
Adil Anwar stayed busy with a sixth round technical points win over Welshman Lance Sheehan. Sheehan suffered a nasty cut from a clash of heads resulting in the contest going to the scorecards.
Referee Mike Alexander had the scheduled 10 threes 60-54 in favour of Anwar at the time of the stoppage. Leeds’ Anwar picked up the vacant British Masters light welterweight strap in the process.
Sean “Masha” Dodd scored a sixth round KO of Ross Payne.