By Danny Winterbottom at ringside: American veteran Tony Thompson stopped heavyweight hope David Price for the second time in five months inside a shocked Echo Arena in Liverpool and proved age is no barrier in the heavyweight division.
In February 41-year-old Thompson was brought over as cannon fodder for the power punching Liverpudlian’s rise to a world title but a clubbing right hand scattered the senses of the 6’8” giant leaving his career in limbo.
This time, on a promotion billed as ‘Redemption’, Thompson was in fantastic shape and needed only five rounds to wear out and shockingly stop the hometown hero for a second time reducing promoter Frank Maloney, who talked of quitting boxing after the loss, to tears.
This was a huge defeat for Price who was celebrating his 30th birthday but the only gift he received from the Washington D.C native was the gift of experience as he absorbed a series of booming Price right hands and survived a second round knockdown to eventually wear him down and stop him with a succession of clubbing blows as Price languished in his opponents corner.
“I don’t know what to say. I’m still coming to terms with the loss” said a dejected Price in the post-fight press conference.
After Thompson (18st 7lbs)had danced and rapped his way to the ring to the tones of LL Cool J’s ‘Mama said knock you out’ a sense of anticipation rose throughout the Arena as ‘You’ll never walk alone’ interrupted the American teams dance moves.
Price (17st 12lbs) seemed a little tense on his walk to the ring and a suited Lennox Lewis sat ringside implored Price to keep moving as he stood and eyeballed Thompson across the mat.
As expected, Price began the opening stanza cautiously as he searched out an opportunity to land his jab. Thompson sensed the edginess in his work and shuffled forwards as he attempted to ruffle the feathers of the home favourite.
Whenever Price fell short with his jab Thompson would shoot a left to the stomach forcing Price to reset but in round two it looked as though the big man would indeed have redemption as a booming right hand sent Thompson tumbling to the canvas.
Hauling himself off the floor using the bottom rope as leverage, the Americans glassy eyes revealed the magnitude of the blow that had accounted for 13 of Price’s previous opponents. Rising on the count of nine, referee Marcus McDonnell seemed on the verge of waving the contest off but gave Thompson the benefit of the doubt in a call that would have huge ramifications just three rounds later.
Price came out looking for the finish in round three but a combination of Thompson’s veteran survival skills and his shocking and sudden loss of conditioning prevented him from finding the telling blow.
Thompson began to utilise a sharp uppercut up the middle of Price’s high guard whenever they fell into a clinch, which was often as Price tired suddenly, and the Liverpudlian looked at a loss as they worked at close quarters.
Price worked his right hand in the fourth but Thompson just ate it up and kept coming forward. Thompson was now making a concerted effort to work the body of Price bringing excited yells from his corner of “Yeah baby break that right rib!”
Out on his feet, not from a punch but from sheer exhaustion, Price stumbled back to his corner.
As Thompson put it later he “closed the show with a killer’s heart” as he trapped a tired Price in his corner and wailed away with an unanswered barrage of blows in the fifth. Price attempted to ride the shots but he was unable to move enough to do so before Marcus McDonnell inexplicably separated the two fighters and began a standing eight count.
Thompson’s corner bereted the official and perhaps realising his mistake the Twickenham referee then waved the bout off signalling wild celebrations from Thompson and his team.
The end came at 1-55.
“I think everybody was surprised when I got up in the second round” said Thompson later.
“He (Price) has a champion’s body but he doesn’t yet have a champions mind. That was the difference”
Lennox Lewis, who had mentored Price throughout his camp for this fight, sat alongside the Liverpudlian and his trainer Franny Smith during the post-fight press conference and revealed blood tests may be used to determine whether Price has an underlining problem after his sudden onset of exhaustion from the third round onwards.
“I was really surprised when he tired as quickly as he did. We have the facilities to do tests to see if he had low blood sugar levels” said Lewis.
But Thompson said he felt the weight of expectation on Price was his downfall.
“I saw him tiring at the press conference, the weigh in and during the fight. He was nervous.”
“He should come and train with me” he joked.
On the undercard Kevin Satchell (7st 13lbs 5oz) made a successful second defence of his British and Commonwealth flyweight titles, but only after surviving a heavy knockdown in round two at the hands of Motherwell’s Iain Butcher (7st 13lbs), before finally prevailing by unanimous decision.
Judges John Keane and Victor Laughlin scored the bout 115-113 and Marcos McDonnell saw the contest 115-114. Steve Gray officiated.
Butcher came into the bout undefeated with a record of 8-0 (2) and started the fight full of confidence despite his record consisting predominantly of wins over fighters with losing records.
Satchell, who impressed with wins over Chris Edwards and Luke Wilton, fired rapid straight punches at Butcher but the 21-year-old was undeterred and began to walk his man down.
Satchell’s blows had no effect on Butcher but the Scotsman’s left hook rocked Satchell to his boots in round two before a follow up blow dropped him heavily to the surprise of everyone accept a pocket of his supports situated in the gods.
Satchell did well to recover from his first career crisis but Butcher will rue a missed opportunity to claim the British and Commonwealth titles as ‘Satch’ regrouped to box his way to the eleventh win of his career.
Darren Hamilton continues to surprise as he widely outscored the favoured Adil Anwar of Leeds to retain his British 10st crown.
Hamilton (9st 13lbs 5oz) won the title in an upset over Ashley Theophane in May last year and outclassed Wallasey’s Steve Williams last time out but was expected to struggle with Prizefighter winner Anwar.
The opposite proved to be true however as Hamilton’s jab and general awkwardness shut down Anwar’s offence, reddened his left eye and almost brought about a stoppage late in the fight before he prevailed 116-113 for Marcus McDonnell, 117-112 for John Keane and
118-112 for Steve Gray.
Other results were as follows:
Marcin Marczak WPTS 4 Kevin Macaulay (light middleweight)
Travis Dickinson WPTS 6 Nathan King (light heavyweight)
Joe Tonks WPTS 4 Ryan McNicol (welterweight)
Louis Cuddy TKO 3 Stanislav Makarenko (cruiserweight)