Danny Winterbottom, ringside
In a brutal and shocking display of heavyweight power punching David Price needed two right hands and just 82 seconds of the opening round to send former Olympic gold medallist Audley Harrison crashing to the canvas and into almost certain retirement inside Liverpool’s Echo Arena on Saturday October 13 in defence of his British and Commonwealth titles.
Harrison, now fighting out of Westlake Village in California, had again attempted to convince the media and fight fans as he did prior to his awful display against David Haye, that he was in condition and fit and able to inflict the first defeat on the high flying Price and derail his plans to contest a world title sooner rather than later. However, Audley was totally blown away in devastating fashion and as the British champion admitted in the press conference later he failed to land a punch for the second successive time in a big fight and must now seriously consider his future in this most brutal of sports.
Harrison, 40, looked focused on his way to the ring despite being given a hellacious reception from the 8,000 strong and passionate home crowd who revelled in chanting “Who are ya?” from the moment they set eyes on the 6’6” southpaw.
In the shape of his life at 17st 7lbs, the former European champion was finally given some rest bite from the taunts as the crowd erupted and sang “You’ll never walk alone” in unison creating a spine tingling atmosphere inside the arena and one that Price (17st 9lbs) later admitted he needed to “soak up” before commencing his walk to the ring.
Harrison tried to block out the noise by shadow boxing, a solitary figure in the middle of the ring, but that was about to count for nothing as the bell sounded to start the contest.
Whatever you think of Harrison there is no doubt he is a well-schooled technician and in the opening seconds of the bout both men “fenced” with their jabs as Price looked to land his booming right and Audley his southpaw left.
It was Harrison who was first to show his hand, a backhand left that fell well short of the mark as Price took a half step back to avoid the shot. Price, who looked huge around the shoulders, spotted a gap for his right and shot it down the middle of Harrison’s guard. The punch had a notable effect on the legs of the former gold medallist and it became clear Price had the power to take him out early.
Another right steadied him up and Audley backed off and onto the ropes directly in front of the press row at ringside as Price administered the final sickening, concussive straight right hand that smashed Harrison’s nose in two places sending splodges of blood onto the canvas and Audley into an unconscious heap on the floor. Referee Howard Foster immediately dispensed with the count to allow the 40-year-old to receive medical attention and he remained on his stool for quite some time with promoter Frank Maloney revealing he had later gone to hospital as a precaution.
It was a brutal spectacle to behold seeing a career that started with such promise on the back of Olympic glory in 2000 to end only feet away in such sickening fashion 12 years later, but for Price it is onwards and upwards and into a contest with another former European champion Matt Skelton from Bedford who watched intently from ringside after his own victory on the huge card and who sat with Price at the post fight press conference to announce their December 8 clash.
“We were originally going to do this fight (Price-Skelton) on December 1st at Aintree but Tyson Fury fights on the same night and it would be silly to destroy another promoter’s chance of making money when he still has a heavyweight capable of putting bums on seats” explained Maloney.
“We will go on the 8th and our opponent will be Matt Skelton, who was originally set for this fight as it happens but Audley wanted the fight so we went with him and put Matt on the card to build the fight and Matt wants to win the Lonsdale belt outright too.”
“Yeah, ironically I’ve won it three times but then they changed the ruling to four times, such is life, but it is a fantastic opportunity for me” said Skelton sat alongside Maloney and trainer Kevin Sanders.
Asked whether he still fancied the fight after witnessing Price’s power first hand Skelton replied.
“Yeah absolutely, I don’t want to take anything away from him (Price) but people said it was a forgone conclusion because it was Audley but anything can happen in the heavyweight division. I think Audley came to fight but truthfully I thought David looked phenomenal tonight. I was there when he beat Sexton, who I was sparring for that fight, but Sexton did things in the fight that went against his boxing character if you like; he thought he could sit under the jab and make David work. For me David is a world class heavyweight right now but I still think I can come to fight. People go on about my age but I only started in the fight game in my 30’s.”
Given room and time to connect with his powerful right hands Price looks a formidable task for any of the current crop of heavyweights outside of the Klitschko brothers so Skelton was asked what he would do to nullify that threat.
“My style is to pressure opponents, I’ve never pretended I’m this finesse fighter, I haven’t seen anybody apply it to David yet but that isn’t to say he would buckle under the pressure but that is my fight game.”
Maloney admitted that due to Price’s increasing popularity the mooted Aintree equestrian venue, that housed the Scouser’s win over Sam Sexton in May, could be too small and alternative venues are being looked at, including outside the Liverpool area.
“We are going to take David on the road, other venues have been looked at and we hope to announce it on Tuesday.”
“I’m excited by this story of David Price” admitted Maloney who was sporting a similar looking Union Jack inspired suit he wore when Lennox Lewis fought. “It was roughly 21-years-ago when Lennox destroyed Razor Ruddock and I must say that punch David threw was better than the one Lennox Lewis threw to beat Ruddock.”
Whilst Frank Maloney was fielding questions from sections of the press David Price made his entrance and was asked firstly of his thoughts on the outcome of the fight with Harrison.
“I shocked myself with the power in my punches. I didn’t expect to do that to him early; I thought I would break him down over a period of rounds.”
“Audley came in at 17st 7lbs, only twice has he weighed that little and one of those times he admits was his best performance so psychologically he wanted to weigh that and I could see in his eyes he was here to fight.”
“I have enjoyed the whole build up to the fight and I told myself that if I am going to be involved in these big occasions in the future I better start enjoying it and I did” he said.
Asked about his next fight with Matt Skelton Price said “Audley was a former European champion, world title challenger and Olympic gold medallist, but nobody can disagree that Matt has been a better professional. He has been British and Commonwealth champion himself and fought for a world title and been a right handful throughout his career so I think it’s another step up”
Kevin Satchell (8st) proved too young and strong for Stoke’s Chris Edwards (8st) as he added the British Flyweight crown to the Commonwealth strap he claimed with victory over fellow Scouser Paul Edwards back in May with an impressive sixth round stoppage victory in front of his home crowd.
Edwards relies on constant forward motion as he looks to impose his strength and work rate on opponents, but Satchell engaged him in the centre of the ring and managed to drive him backwards from the very first bell. His right hand proved troublesome for the 36-year-old now 17-15-4 (4), and body shots began to take their toll on the older man from the third. Edwards was cut on the corner of his right eye in the fourth and dropped by a sweetly delivered left to the liver in the fifth before another body blow took the fight out of the veteran and he slumped to the canvas in round six after taking a beating. The end came at 2-17 of the round and Richie Davies refereed. Satchell improves to 9-0 (2) and looks to have a bright future in the game.
Jon Lewis Dickinson (14st 4lbs) took a wide unanimous decision over a strangely lacklustre Shane McPhilbin (14st 4lbs) to claim the British cruiserweight title in a messy affair.
Judges Richie Davies and Howard Foster saw the contest 118-110 and Phil Edwards from Preston scored 117-111 for the man from County Durham.
Dickinson was always in control of the action behind his jab as McPhilbin failed to land anything of note. Dickinson won every round on my card as the man from Bulwell seemed content to go the distance. Steve Gray officiated.
In an official eliminator for the British 10st crown Adil Anwar and Dale Miles went to war for 12 rounds in a pulsating, absorbing contest that saw Anwar of Leeds run out a wide decision winner as Miles tried his best to land his heavy blows but failed to catch up with slick Prizefighter winner.
Anwar took the decision by scores of 117-111, 117-112 and 119-111.
Other results from the huge card were as follows:
Ryan Farrag (8st 6lbs) WPTS 4 Gareth Smith (8st 3lbs) (Flyweights)
Sean Dodd (10st 1bs 8oz) WPTS 4 Billy Smith (10st 5lbs) (Lightweights)
Wayne Adeniyi (13st 3lbs) WPTS 4 Tony Shields (12st 6lbs) (Light heavyweights)
Danny Price (14st 7lbs 8oz) WPTS 6 Hari Miles (15st) (Cruiserweights)
Sean Lewis (10st 7lbs) WPTS 4 Ross Payne (10st 5lbs 8oz) (Welterweights)
Matt Skelton (16st 8lbs) WTKO 2 Jakov Gospic (17st 4lbs) (Heavyweights)
Neil Perkins (11st 7lbs) WTKO 4 Nicky Jenman (11st 5lbs) (Middleweights)
Tommy Carus (10st 2lbs) WPTS Sid Razak (10st 7lbs) (Lightweights)
Louis Cuddy (14st 6lbs) WPTS 4 Jovan Kaludjerovic (14st 4lbs)