The British heavyweight champion is leaving the domestic scene behind next month as he takes on American Tony Thompson. It could be a fight that sets up a mid-summer clash with arch-rival Tyson Fury.
By Adam Norman
Last Updated: 09/01/13 10:24am
David Price believes his return against Tony Thompson on February 23 presents the perfect opportunity to prove himself on the world stage, as he closes on a title shot.
And the Liverpudlian heavyweight says a fight with arch-rival Tyson Fury could, and probably should, happen this summer.
Price had a huge year in 2012, winning four times and all by spectacular knockout. However the next 12 months will see the former Olympic medallist work his way towards a world title fight against Wladimir Klitschko - if all goes to plan.
Frank Maloney, who guided Lennox Lewis to heavyweight glory in the 1990s, has taken a softly-softly approach with Price but the team is well aware the unbeaten fighter is now embarking on a new chapter in his career.
For in Thompson, Price will need to bridge a giant gulf in class. The American has twice challenged Klitschko - most recently in July last year - when the Ukrainian won via a sixth-round stoppage.
And although he is now 41, Thompson's experience and punching power will provide food for thought in the Price camp following last year's wins against fellow Brits John McDermott, Sam Sexton, Audley Harrison and Matt Skelton.
"It's a big fight. He's a world class fighter. If that's not a test I don't know what is," said the 6ft 8in Price. "It will be judged after the fight whether it was a test by how I deal with him. It's an exciting fight.
"It's two levels above the level I've been fighting. It's up to me to raise my game, which I think I will obviously. I think I proved I'm above domestic level and I think it's time I prove I belong at this one.
"He's obviously got something about him that's got him this far and that's something we've got to look out for. We've got to find out what it is and deal with it on the night. I feel myself getting up for this fight each day and it's exciting me.
"The opponents I fight in the first half of this year will shape the future of my career so they need to be the right opponents that are going to develop me, test me, and I think Tony Thompson is the perfect start.
"If we get the next three opponents spot on, and I can do a job on them, then I'll be ready.
"I've got different qualities to Wladimir Klitschko that he didn't show against Tony Thompson and I believe I will. I'll take any kind of win but I've got to keep a level head and concentrate on what's in front of me, and that's Tony Thompson."
Maloney believes Price will be in position to fight for a world title by the end of the year, and is hoping to put him in the ring at least four times between now and then.
Opponents are not exactly queuing up to take on the knockout artist and while Tyson Fury is talking a good game, the fact remains he gave up the British and Commonwealth belts last year rather than make a mandatory defence against Price.
But both Maloney and his protégé are still hopeful the fight can be made this summer.
"Purse bids were put back at my request because the board of control said the fight had to be made for March, but this fight had already been made," said the promoter. "We'll go to purse bids in February and if it happens, it happens. If it doesn't we'll get on with our jobs and our lives."
However, Price appeared keener to face Fury sooner rather than later.
"If it doesn't happen it would be a massive shame because it's the biggest domestic fight for a generation I believe," he said.
"It's building nicely but I think there's a time when we need to strike while the iron's hot, and I think we're getting to that time where it needs to happen in the summer. If it doesn't we may well miss the boat.
"It is a business at the end of the day. The pair of us would be silly if we won't make the fight arguing for pennies, we both want to earn out of it at the end of the day and there's enough in that fight now that we get what we deserve.
"It's just a matter of getting round the table and sorting it out. I'll put it out there now and say I'll be flexible to make the fight happen. It would have to happen at a stadium wouldn't it. There'd have to be a big security network on the night after all the things he's been saying but that will get sorted. I just want to prove I'm the best boxer. It would be a massive event."
Price needs to make one more defence of the British title to win the coveted Lonsdale Belt outright but he admits time, and opponents, are running out.
"It's not of paramount importance, it's not my priority but at the same time it would be an honour to hold a Lonsdale belt alongside other great fighters who've kept that belt," he added.
"I wouldn't turn it down as long we get an opponent that would raise the challenge, and I believe it would have to be a fighter who is at world level like Dereck Chisora or Tyson Fury, anyone else at the moment it's not looking like I could raise myself to fight, but we'll see what happens."
Maloney agreed that Chisora would be an ideal opponent later this year.
"I see David having four fights again this year and I don't have a problem with Dereck Chisora, I think it's a good fight and one that could be made," he said.
"Me and Frank Warren have worked together with Loaded TV and it's a fight the public would like to see. Although Skelton was a good fight and David needed that it didn't catch the public's imagination - and that's what we want to do. I want to make this year an exciting one for the heavyweight division and David wants the same thing."
That's all in the future. Right now, Price has only one man on his mind and that is Tony Thompson.
"He's top-10 ranked as am I and in this day and age it's not that often you see that unless it's for a world title. So if I can do a number on him, or a better job than Klitschko did, then it will send a massive message around the world. This fight could propel me to new heights, then who knows what can happen."