• Steve Bunce

Price v Fury could cap a golden age

Steve Bunce January 29, 2013

We are entering a golden period in British boxing. Now, you don't throw terms like that around lightly, and certainly not when the pack is missing a Naseem Hamed, Lennox Lewis, Joe Calzaghe or Ricky Hatton. Such eras are marked out by the presence of great fighters in, if not every division, at least six or seven, maybe eight or nine - and that's what we've got at the moment.

A dozen of the current crop of British boxers could travel back in time and play a part in any decade, any era. I can think of 40 or 50 fixtures featuring British boxers that I'd like to see in the next 18 months - but the one fight I don't want to see any time soon, don't want to see rushed, is David Price v Tyson Fury.

These two will meet at some point - and I hate to say it, but I'm glad it's not in April or May. I think it will be a fight worthy of their standing in the sport next year. There are those out there hankering for the two unbeaten heavyweights to step into the ring together, marking it out as a great fight - and they're right. But it'll still be a great fight if they both lose between now and when they eventually face off. It will always be a great fight, simple as that.

Whatever the bout was worth when it was first mentioned in 2012, it is already worth three times as much. In a year's time - whether both win or lose between now and then - it will have quadrupled in value. And what if one of them picks up a world title once the Klitschko brothers ride off into the Ukrainian sunset? Say one has a championship belt around his waist and the other is still undefeated in 12 months' time - that makes it a monster fight.

Until then, they've got other match-ups that can generate plenty of publicity. David's got a couple of fights planned: one against Tony Thompson before a potential showdown with Dereck 'Del Boy' Chisora - that'll be enormous. Tyson will talk about having a really hard fight in America or a hard fight here, and if nothing comes of that then he'll keep chasing Wladimir. But he may well take a big risk and get himself in a fight that genuinely shocks people - perhaps with WBA regular champion Alexander Povetkin or either Klitschko. That's part of his traveller fighting culture - he takes risks. Don't be at all surprised if he comes up with something big.

And of course he'll keep issuing challenges to every man and dog - any bloke above 15st he issues a challenge to. He does pick on people his own size at least, you've got to give him that - plus the odd "midget" from UFC.

When Tyson called out Cain Velasquez and gave Michael Bisping some lip on Twitter, it probably wasn't part of his hype machine. Far more likely, to my mind, is he looked at the UFC guys and thought, 'I can take these guys out - they can't take a shot, their chins are up in the air and they throw punches like they've never been in front of a bag or an opponent', all of which is possibly true.

The bottom line, Tyson, is that once the guy gets his hands on you it's all over, because you won't have a single defence against him choking you out. Tyson's counter to that - and it's a valid counter - is that he's only got to half-clip the guy to knock him out cold. It's a nice healthy argument/debate.

At some point we will see a top-ranked MMA fighter against a top-ranked boxer. They will both negotiate terms and deals - one will have big gloves on, the other wearing his UFC mitts, no choke-holds or right upper-cuts…who knows. But that's going to happen, and not just as a freak show. That is inevitable, I'm convinced of it.

David Price faces a new challenge in Tony Thompson © PA Photos
But back to boxing. Price may be a good fighter and a good talker, but Tyson Fury is a good fighter - and a brilliant talker. I know some people get upset with him. I know he's said and tweeted a few things that he's regretted, but the guy's colourful, and his profile is sky high. It's arguable that, when it comes to recognisable boxers in this country, he is in the top three - and when you think David Haye is at the top and Amir Khan is up there (he's entitled to be, given his Olympic success) I'm putting Tyson Fury up there with those two. And bear in mind there's other world champions and great fighters - Ricky Burns, Nathan Cleverly, James DeGale, George Groves, Kell Brook and Carl Froch to name a few.

I'm still pretty sure Tyson Fury is in front of that lot. That's sensational, and all down to that big gob of his. He's also got a big heart, and he can fight a bit - what a blessing! Don King would sell his grandmother to get a slice of Tyson Fury - and the other one for a tiny bit of Price!

Price, like Fury, is a bona fide world title contender now. Neither needs fights to climb the ladder, they're taking care of world-ranked fighters - Kevin Johnson in Fury's last fight, and Tony Thompson coming up for Price. These are guys who have been in title fights with the Klitschkos and given decent accounts of themselves. Price will come through against Thompson, and he will move on - it could be that big showdown with Chisora, or it could be that he takes a risk as well.

These guys are ready. They don't want to miss the boat and sit back while someone else picks up a world title and suddenly find themselves three fights out. Is David Price in a better position than Tyson Fury right now? Most people would say so, but I still like the fact that Fury's had to dig deep as a pro. Price has been in some seriously competitive sparring sessions with the best fighters in the world in the past couple of years, doing his learning in the gym, but Fury would point to the big gloves and headguards and the lack of fight-night tension - the sort of situations he has put himself in.

Let's not mince our words - if they fight this year, Tyson Fury v David Price becomes the biggest fight in British boxing history. It will have a record attendance and generate more money than any other bout on these shores. It will be front and back-page news - sometimes for the right reasons, sometimes for the wrong reasons - but the bottom line is it will be a monster, and that is something we shouldn't forget or neglect.

While you're here, don't forget to check out Buncey's Boxing Podcast - just two episodes old and already the best boxing podcast in the UK. This week we're weighing up what lies ahead for James DeGale's career, Nathan Cleverly's mission to unify the light-heavyweight division and the Great Debate: Who is Hungary's best fighter?

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Steve Bunce Close
Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.