Oleksandr Usyk’s first Brit rival Danny Price remembers their battle with big bets: ‘It was sloppy-he is incredible’ | Boxing news

Thirteen years have passed, but as Oleksandr Usyk prepares to return to Britain, his first British opponent is still ruining his own terrible luck.

Danny Price felt Olympic heartache at the time when “the tournament of his life”, a qualifier for Beijing 2008, ended with the unthinkable. Only later would he realize how cruelly he had been treated.

Usyk has since outplayed Joe Joyce, knocked out Tony Bellew, fought past Derek Chisora ​​and will challenge for Anthony Joshua’s IBF, WBA and WBO Heavyweight Championships on September 25, live at the Sky Sports Box Office.

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But his first fight with a Briton came in Pescara, Italy, on the picturesque Adriatic coast, hardly the expected place for boxing disaster to hit.

“I beat a Moldovan. Then I beat Tervel Pulev [the brother of Joshua’s former challenger Kubrat], who eventually won a world silver, “Price recalls of what was slowly becoming his biggest performance week.

Danny Price
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Danny Price was a victory away from qualifying for the Olympics

“Then I beat a Greek guy who was European champion.

“I beat them on three consecutive days.”

Qualifying for the Olympics was a battle away for Price. On his way stood a Ukrainian heavyweight, only 21 years old.

Price recalls an awkward battle of styles with the unscrupulous Usyk: “He was a counter-puncher back then, and so was I. I was better suited to be on the back foot.

“I was one point down in the last round.

“I had to chase the fight in the last round and he beat me. It was his game.

“I always think – if I was a point up in the final round, he should have chased me. I could have been on the back foot.

“It would have been in my hands. It blurred.”

Oleksandr Usyk
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Unsickly, Price inflicted a heartbreaking defeat on Price

Usyk won 15-6 in the four-round match to secure a place at the Olympics.

“Technically, he’s just incredible,” Price says.

“In the first three rounds there was not much in it. He did not give much away and neither did I.

“So when I threw, I missed and he threw back. His reflexes were so good.

“In the last round, when I was chasing it, he boxed my head off. He caught me coming in. He was so good at that fighting form.

“He’s the best technical boxer I’ve been in the ring with.”

Price, who owned an amateur victory over Bellew, fell short in three qualifiers for Beijing 2008.

Team GB instead included Kal Yafai, Joe Murray, Frankie Gavin, Bradley Saunders, Billy Joe Saunders, James DeGale (who won gold), Tony Jeffries and David Price (both bronze).

Only as time went on did Price understand the seriousness of his disappointment.

He had encountered Clemente Russo at his first qualifier in Chicago and lost to the Italian, who he thought “did not hit hard – he was just awkward and threw shots from different angles”.

But Russo eventually eliminated Usyk and Deontay Wilder at the Olympics en route to winning silver.

Oleksandr Usyk
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Usyk was eliminated in the quarterfinals at the Beijing Games

Price’s last attempt to qualify ended in “a terrible decision” in defeat to Hungary’s Jozsef Darmos. In terms of illness, that tournament was won by Greece’s Elias Pavlidis.

“The guy I beat before I faced Uzyk,” Price sighed.

“Do not, mate,” he says, thinking of his match in Italy against Usyk, which represented his best chance of going to an Olympics.

Even being forced to face Usyk in the crunch match, rather than a lighter opponent, added to Price’s misfortune.

“My side of the draw was so bad!

“Artur Szpilka [who was later knocked out by Wilder and Chisora] was not very good. It’s if and but. But if I got Szpilka, I would have been comfortable. “

Usyk’s first Olympics in Beijing ended in defeat, but four years later in London he won gold.

Joshua, in the division above, also took gold.

At the time, it could never have been predicted that they would eventually meet in a stadium that did not yet exist in a world championship in heavyweight matches of such size.

“It’s an exciting match,” Price said. “If Usyk can keep him in check, he wins.

“Of course, if Joshua connects, it lights up.

“Usyk would struggle more with a style like Chisoras or Dillian Whytes. He would be forced to be on his toes for 12 rounds.

“But Joshua is more of a boxer, more orthodox, he tries to pick his shots more.

“It can play into Usyk’s hands. I think a press fighter is more effective against Usyk.”

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Joshua vs. Usyk could be a ‘Match of the Year’, says promoter Eddie Hearn

Usyk now stands as a former undisputed cruiserweight champion aiming to become just the third boxer ever (after Evander Holyfield and David Haye) to also win a heavyweight title. He has not lost as a professional and it is a decade since he tasted defeat as an amateur.

Perhaps his greatest success, the 2012 Olympics, came in the UK, and he has convincingly beaten every Brit rival that was put in front of him.

Joshua will be a completely different test.

From his home in Scarborough, the long-retired Price will look with interest and consider what could have been different.

Watch Joshua v Usyk Saturday, live at the Sky Sports Box Office, from 6 p.m. Book it via your Sky remote or book it online here. Non-Sky TV subscribers can book and watch it here.

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