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Price and Fury – “Everyone needs a nemesis!”

By Mark Turley: Britain’s top two heavyweights both came through their respective fights this weekend, to keep the tantalising prospect of a domestic showdown alive. In Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tyson Fury produced a controlled, if somewhat tedious performance to overcome Kevin ‘Kingpin’ Johnson, who, in all honesty, did very, very little for the entire contest. Having come in at 3 weeks notice, there were always questions regarding Johnson’s fitness and he simply did not have the tools or energy to get inside Fury’s reach and trouble the taller man. Most of the fight took place on the end of Fury’s jab and was not one that will live long in the memory.

Despite all of that, Fury, who has often fought recklessly in the past, at least looked fit for this fight and showed he is capable of sticking to a gameplan when needed. If the pre-fight hype was accurate, the victory has put Fury in line to face Vitali Klitschko for the WBC Title, assuming Klitschko doesn’t retire to concentrate on politics. If the fight happens, Klitschko’s advancing years give Fury some sort of chance, although he will need to fight with more fire than he did tonight. His punch resistance, untested by Johnson this evening, remains a concern.

The previous night, a ferry-ride away across the Irish Sea, David Price successfully defended his British and Commonwealth Titles against Matt Skelton at the Aintree Equestrian Centre in Wales. The 45 year old ‘Bedford Bear’ came to fight and made things awkward for Price in the first round, his usual rough-housing tactics in evidence. He even managed to catch Price on several occasions with hurtful looking shots, which does raise questions about what would happen if one of the elite fighters in the division had landed them. In the second round, Price caught up with Skelton and a venomous body-shot combination put him down and saw his corner throw in the towel, perhaps a little prematurely. There is talk of American opposition, perhaps Tony Thompson for Price’s next opponent. The 41 year old is not the most inspiring choice and has led to further, perhaps unfair accusations that Price’s team are guilty of padding his record with soft matchmaking, despite the fact this was only his 15th pro fight.

In the pre-fight build up, Price, who talks well, was asked about Fury and said “everyone needs a nemesis!” The rivalry between the two of them is building nicely and seems to have lost the childish spite and name-calling that erupted after the Price v Harrison contest. It should lead to a huge all-British clash within the next 2 years, quite possibly with a World Title on the line. Price has looked the better man throughout his career, with not only power but also control and technique in his locker, but Fury’s improved attitude of late would make it an even money match-up.

Someone who definitely can’t be accused of trading on soft matchmaking is Chris Eubank Jr who took on seasoned Welshman and former Commonwealth champion, Bradley Pryce at Middleweight, on the Fury undercard. Eubank boxed well in flashes to keep his opponent at bay and at 33 Pryce couldn’t match Eubank for speed or sharpness. Having said that, Pryce caught Eubank on a few occasions and the younger fighter appeared temporarily hurt in the fourth. Allowing for the Welshman’s ring knowledge and durability, it may still be a concern for Eubank’s long term prospects that despite landing a large number of eye-catching shots he was unable to hurt Pryce. In the post-fight interview, Chris Eubank Sr began talking up a fight with European Super-Middleweight Champ James Degale. On this showing however, his son has some way to go before stepping up to that level.

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