‘You’ll never walk alone’ – that’s what they sing in the Liverpool FC anthem. For David Price (19-3-0, 16 KOs), however, the power of this tune won’t be on his side for the first time in his career when he squares off against the Czech heavyweight king Vaclav Pejsar (9-2-0, 8 KOs) Sunday at the famous football ground Goodison Park.
“I believe when you’re an athlete competing on such high professional level, you shouldn’t pay that much attention to these things,” explains the Plzen native in his extensive interview to Profiboxing.cz on why he’s not counting on eventual cracks in the psyche of the 6 ft 8 in tall Liverpool fighter. Instead, he has spent the last days of his preparation focusing on something else – the poor durability and weak chin of a man who three years ago was considered by many as a possible successor of Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko.
After all, Pejsar’s predecessor on the Czech heavyweight throne Ondrej Pala, whom he phoned this week to consult the strengths and weaknesses of Price, shares the same pre-fight mindset. It was precisely Price who Pala faced two years ago in his last professional bout to date, and despite losing in three rounds, he managed to floor him in the very first round of their contest…
How much do you look forward to the fight? Did you already manage to digest the offer and the chance you’re getting in this fight?
I’m really looking forward to it! As I’ve already said – this is the type of fight you’re training for. And I want to achieve something in the ring! I’m eager to face tough opponents, not the weak ones. Fighting obscure guys is not the way for me. I’m a late starter, so I don’t have any time left to waste and as such want to really enjoy my career while it lasts.
Do you view David Price as an easier opponent than your originally intended foe Michael Wallisch?
I guess me and Mira Pek have already spoken with you about that, haven’t we? I believe Price is a better option for me than Wallisch. Against Price, I think I could do better with my style, and he’s also higher in the rankings compared to the German. Last but not least, his chin is not as durable as is Wallisch’s.
What will be your gameplan? Price can be hurt, but first you must get to him…
I have to pressure him. Basically, I need to do the same stuff which I originally intended to use against Wallisch. It should work with Price as well. You simply can’t stand in front of him and let him find his distance. You have to come close and attack him from different sides and angles.
Did you come to grips with this tactic in training?
Well, as far as the mitt workout goes, I definitely did (laughs).
Then how do you plan to transfer all this into the actual fight?
We’re drilling it, so we’ll see. To be honest, I’m still not quite sure if I will completely embrace this tactic in the ring, since many times I tended to repeat some stuff in the gym and then in the actual fight, it simply didn’t work. But I believe this is the first time in my career that I’m really feeling ready for the fight. In other words, that I don’t have to think if I’m ready or not, if I have the necessary portion of training behind me, etc. I had these doubts in my mind before the last Heroes Gate card. Deep inside, I simply wasn’t that sure about my pre-fight preparation.
After the Heroes Gate card, we also spoke about your mental preparation. Did you already recruit a psychologist to work in your team?
Not yet, but I’m consulting this option with my trainer. I’m reading various articles dedicated to this topic.
In the beginning of the week, you told me you wanted to contact Ondrej Pala, who boxed Price two years ago. Did you two speak, and if so, what was his advice to you?
I did speak to Ondrej via phone, and I was surprised how kind he was to give me his tips. We concurred that the fight was too close for us to have any common sparring and test everything in practice, but even if it was all theory, I’m still glad for these advices. Afterward, we tested everything in the gym with my trainer Lukas Navratil, who more or less convinced me that I did the right preparation and also added some advices of his own. But what it exactly was, I’m not going to reveal (laughs).
I had a long conversation with Ondrej, and I also plan to call him before the fight. Too bad it was all made in such a hurry – otherwise, I would’ve definitely paid a couple of visits to him in Prague and trained together. I have to admit he’s always looked to me as a nice guy, and our recent talk only confirmed this perception. He’s definitely not some cocky idiot. And that’s how it should be in our sport – if our roles were reversed and he would be the one looking for some help, I would gladly offer him my tips and training.
I believe this should be the correct approach in our sport. I somehow don’t get it why some of our guys behave the way they do, bad-mouthing each other instead of helping each other out. Considering how small our country is, there’s too much stuff going on here, and often, it’s totally unnecessary.
What were the things Ondra warned you about Price? His straight right hand?
Yes. Countering it is the only way to stun him, to rattle him. You simply can’t stand in his range, or he’ll target you. As I’ve already said, mastering this tactics was the core of my training. And I’m also very well aware that I have to pressure him and always do something, even in clinches. We all know Price can tire quickly, but I have to make sure it’s not me who runs out of gas (laughs).
Price is, by the way, an avid supporter of Liverpool FC, but he’s fighting you at the stadium of its archrival Everton. For a while, there were talks he may not be fighting there, but even though he finally will, he won’t be entering the ring listening to his usual walk-in tune “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, which is also the anthem of “The Reds”. Do you think it may shake his confidence a bit?
I can’t see into his head, so I don’t know. When you’re an athlete competing on such a high level, such things simply can’t deter you, but then again, it’s true that the football and also the rivalry between the clubs is a much more serious topic in the UK than it is in our country, so we’ll see. But I’m not going to give it any bigger importance in our fight…
It may be that the local fans will eventually be on your side…
I’m not paying any attention to these things. When I’m in the ring, I don’t care what’s around me. I always try to stay calm and follow the advices of my corner.
Do you know your fight with Price will occur at the same exact place which last year became the setting for one of the fights in Creed – the last sequel to the Rocky film series? He and one of the main stars of the evening will be the same – Tony Bellew, who will be fighting Ilunga Makabu for the WBC title.
I’m not aware of this. I have to admit, I haven’t watched the movie in its entirety yet, though I know how it all ended. Well, someone has told me about the ending, to be precise, but I myself didn’t see it.
So you won’t be distracted by the magic of the moment in any way?
Who knows, maybe I will? Maybe I’m going to watch the entire movie in a hurry (laughs). I do like this motivational stuff, so I may end up watching it in the locker room before the fight. Such clips or movies can indeed help me and pump me up.