Standing in the ring following his one-sided destruction of Jean Marc-Mormeck last March, Wladimir Klitschko rattled off the names of a few future opponents. There was Chris Arreola, the popular American with the crowd pleasing style. There was Seth Mitchell, the former Michigan State linebacker with the big punch and the bigger name. And there was David Price, the former British Olympian who has quickly become one of the fastest rising heavyweights in the sport.
"That was flattering," Price said in a telephone interview. "That was one of the best compliments I've ever got."
In the search for someone, anyone to compete with the Klitschko brothers, Price has jumped to the top of the list. At 6-foot-8, 245 pounds, Price has the size to look a Klitschko in the eye. And with a potent right hand, he has the power to back them up.
Price is a schooled fighter, one with a lengthy amateur background. He picked up boxing at 10 and made it a career at 14, when he discovered that his lanky, then-6-4 frame was better suited for the ring than the soccer pitch. He was a student of the game back then, absorbing the techniques of Lennox Lewis and Oscar De La Hoya whenever they fought, and in his down time popping in VHS tapes of Tommy Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler.
"They were great fighters," Price said. "They had great technique. Being taller, I learned that if I used my skills an opponent was going to have to do so many different things to be able to beat me."
What Price lacks, for now, is experience. A decorated amateur, Price, 28, doesn't have a lengthy pro resume. He missed the cut for the 2004 Olympics by one win and elected to remain an amateur for another four years to qualify for the next one. Competing for a medal was a dream, Price said, one he fulfilled in Beijing in '08, winning a bronze medal.
Since turning professional in 2009, Price has been impressive. The power is there and it seems to be improving with every fight. Consider: Price only knocked four of his first six opponents out, when the competition is usually pretty light. He has finished his last six before the final bell.
"I'm still developing physically and mentally as a fighter," he said. "What I need to do is carry on what I'm doing, keep getting top quality sparring and blasting people out all the time."
On Saturday night in Liverpool, England, Price (12-0) will face his stiffest test to date when he takes on countryman and former Prizefighter winner Sam Sexton (15-2) for the vacant British heavyweight title. A win would move Price a step closer to a fight with fellow Brit Tyson Fury. There has been a war of words going on between Price and Fury, who vacated the British title when Price was named the mandatory challenger. Fury has called Price a "domestic fighter." Price says Fury is a "hype job."
"He's a fraud," Price said. "All the hype surrounding him, it's not real. The only real win Fury has is the one where he beat a grossly out of shape Dereck Chisora. He's so over hyped. We had the chance to fight, at the end of the day, his management didn't want him to. It's not worth thinking about Tyson Fury right now."
Price admits he thinks about the Klitschko's, but says he is a long way from being ready to face them. His jab is still coming along and the ring generalship the Klitschko's have developed in nearly two decades as professionals is something he is still developing. For now he prefers to focus on Sexton and the British title and let a Klitschko matchup come when the time is right.
"It would be the biggest achievement of my career," Price said. "I've won Commonwealth Games gold and Olympic bronze as an amateur, which were both proud achievements. But to win that Lonsdale Belt is something I've had my eye on since turning pro. It's a lovely belt, and so many great fighters have held it. It will be the start of something big for me if I win this belt."