Boxing Fight: Danny Price, Oleksandr Usyk’s first British opponent, recalls their high-stakes fight: ‘It was heartbreaking — he is incredible’

Boxing Fight
Source: Skysports

Boxing Fight: Thirteen years have passed, but Oleksandr Usyk’s first British opponent is still cursing his own bad luck as he prepares to return to the UK.

Danny Price experienced Olympic grief as “the tournament of his life,” a Beijing 2008 qualifier, ended in the unexpected. He would only later realise how ruthlessly he had been handled.

Since then, Usyk has defeated Joe Joyce, Tony Bellew, and Derek Chisora, and will fight for Anthony Joshua’s IBF, WBA, and WBO heavyweight titles on September 25.

But his first bout with a British opponent took place in Pescara, Italy, on the beautiful Adriatic Coast, hardly the most likely spot for a boxing disaster.

“I triumphed over a Moldovan.” Then I beat Tervel Pulev [Joshua’s former challenger Kubrat’s brother], who went on to win a global silver,” Price recalls of what was quickly becoming his most successful week.

“Then I beat a European champion from Greece.”

“I beat them three times in a row.”

Price was one bout away from qualifying for the Olympics. A 21-year-old Ukrainian heavyweight stood in his path.

Price recalls an uneasy style clash with Usyk, the southpaw: “Back in the day, he and I were both counter-punchers. I was more at ease when I was on the defensive.

“Going into the final round, I was down one point.

“In the final round, I had to hunt the fight down, and he beat me. That was the point of his game.

“I always imagine that if I had been one point ahead going into the final round, he would have pursued me. It was possible that I was on the defensive.

“It would’ve been in my possession. It was heartbreaking.”

Usyk won the four-round fight 15-6 to clinch a berth in the Olympics.

Price says, “Technically, he is just unbelievable.”

“There wasn’t much in it in the first three rounds.” He didn’t say much, and I didn’t say much either.

“Then I’d miss every time I threw, and he’d throw back.” His reactions were incredible.

“When I tracked it down in the last round, he boxed my head off.” He saw me coming in and stopped me. He was a master of that type of combat.

“I’ve been in the ring with the best technical boxer I’ve ever seen.”

Price, who beat Bellew as an amateur, came up short in three Beijing 2008 qualifiers.

Kal Yafai, Joe Murray, Frankie Gavin, Bradley Saunders, Billy Joe Saunders, James DeGale (gold medalist), Tony Jeffries, and David Price made up Team GB (both bronze).

Clemente Russo had been his opponent in his first qualifier in Chicago, and he had fallen to the Italian, whom he said “didn’t hit hard – he was just clumsy and launched strokes from different angles.”

Russo, on the other hand, defeated Usyk and Deontay Wilder to win silver at the Olympics.

Price’s final attempt to qualify ended in defeat to Hungary’s Jozsef Darmos due to “an horrible mistake.” Surprisingly, Elias Pavlidis of Greece won the tournament.

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