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Oh ye of Little faith: can Tom Little cause a Saturday night upset?

Saturday night’s Matchroom Boxing show at the O2 Arena, London, is set to be a cracker. Four heavyweight fights will be laid on for the delectation of boxing fans, including Team Southpaw Jab heavyweight Fabio Wardley. Bill topping action from Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora seems unlikely to disappoint and a last minute match up of Takam versus Gashi is also intriguing, at least on paper. One that will catch the eye of the more dedicated British fight fans though is David Price versus Tom Little.

David Price is regarded by many boxing fans with a sort of morbid fascination. He’s a sportsmanlike and likeable character with an outstanding amateur record. He boxed for GB and was set to become the next big thing, until a lack of punch resistance became abundantly, repeatedly, painfully clear.

His stoppage loss to Alexander Povetkin was one of the most gut-churning knockouts in recent memory and a pull out against another Russian, Kuzmin, showed Price’s continued fragility. Now the 6’8”, 35 year-old Liverpudlian is taking on a more manageable challenge, Hatfield’s Tom Little.

Price said: “I’m pleased that I’m fighting someone like Tom Little because I’ve lost three of my last four fights and the options could have been a lot easier but Tom Little’s a serious fighter.”

He’s taking Little seriously though and the pair have sparred many, many rounds together. He said: “The sparring that we’ve done, we’ve done that much that there is going to be no feeling out process on Saturday night. It will just be centre of the ring and we do gel as styles.”

While Little has no great pedigree, he does have bags of heart. He claims this may be the difference between him and Price come Saturday night.

Little told World Boxing News: “I’m mentally stronger than David… He’s going to let his last couple of defeats get to him whereas I’m just eager to put them behind me and move on. I’m willing to go to them deep and dark places to get the win.

“There are weaknesses there to be exposed. I can categorically say that this fight won’t go the distance. I’ve got the engine of a train and I won’t stop going. When I fought Filip Hrgovic I was getting better as the rounds went on, but I got cut. Never at any point was I gassing.

“David has the skill-set and the physique to stand me on my head, but I’ve got a heart bigger than David’s. There will never be any quit in me. Who wants it more? That’s the difference between me and him. I am willing to go to places that David has nightmares about.

“Against Daniel Dubois, I broke my hand in four places in the first round but I would never, ever say: ‘I’m done’. I believe that if you do it once you will do it again.”

Make no mistake, Little should be levels below Price. However, the Liverpudlian’s ever-present fragility casts doubts over his ability to beat the Hatfield man. As does his refusal to properly address his own failings in the ring. “I haven’t really evaluated that fight (Kuzmin) to try take positives and negatives from it,” Price said. “I’ve kind of written that fight off in my head.”

The Liverpudlian claims he’s still hungry enough to compete though, claiming, “I’m desperate to win again. It’s frustrating going home to my kids and not being able to tell them I’ve won. That’s the desperation I’ve got this weekend.”

Price fans will have to hope for a knockout. The fragile giant showed that, even if he can withstand whatever Tom Little has to offer, his engine may also be doubted. A torrid night in 2017 against Christian Hammer showed fans that, at a time when Price was nailed on to win.

Since Price has looked better despite defeats, but only marginally. He remains a very one-paced fighter. If Little can stay in there against his often-lauded power, there may be an upset on the cards.

This is a dangerous fight for both men but, where it presents a massive opportunity for Little, it may also present the final proverbial nail in the coffin of Price’s career, if he comes up short. Either way it’s an interesting domestic match-up at heavyweight, though Eddie Hearn’s continued talk of Price’s “options” after a win will worry those who think he needs to retire, or at least step down a level. A fight with Little seems far more appropriate for the current iteration of Price than the re-match with Kuzmin that he is trying to demand.

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