Olympics setback puts Leeds boxer Hope Price on path to professional glory

LEEDS puncher Hope Price was never planning on hanging about in pursuit of boxing glory.

ON THE WORLD STAGE: Leeds boxer Hope Price, right, in action against Swedi Mohamed on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s fight against Andy Ruiz Jr in December last year. Picture: Getty Images.

Aged 20, Price thought the Tokyo 2020 Olympics would have been his perfect opportunity to shine. Selectors, though, had other ideas.

Doing things their way, Paris 2024 was looking more likely to be his best opportunity to top the podium for Team GB.

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Instead, by then, Price now hopes he will be on top of the world having already rubbed shoulders with the best in the business two fights after turning professional.

DREAM TEAM: Hope Price (left) alongside trainer and manager Dave Coldwell. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Hunslet Club fighter Price made record-breaking progress as a young amateur flyweight with the Leeds man becoming the first ever boxer from Great Britain to win gold at a Youth Olympics Games.

That success – in Buenos Aires – came as part of a fine 2018 that also saw him win gold at the same year’s European Youth Championships.

Only a defeat in the final of the AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships denied him a sensational treble with the teenager then hoping all roads would lead to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Price, though, was put through continued assessments but was still unsure as to what his future held as he entered 2019.

WINNER: Hope Price after his victory over Swedi Mohamed. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Yet now the boxer knows exactly where he is heading as a newly-turned professional under Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing team with Price determined to strike while the iron is hot rather than risk getting rusty in the amateur game waiting until Paris 2024.

Now two fights into his new pro career – the second of which came on the undercard of Anthony Johsua’s bout against Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia – Price told the YEP: “Before 2018, I thought if I am going to get to the Olympic Games then I have got to do well this year.

“It was like a catapult, I thought if I win a gold at the Worlds then not many people have done the treble so I thought it would catapult me to get on the team for Tokyo.

“I won the Europeans and in the Worlds I was on the wrong end of a decision in the final but I was still the first boxer to win the Youth Olympics.

“Really, in my eyes, I should have had the treble of being European, World and Youth Olympic champion.

“Then I saw all of the other boys from the other countries who I had beaten go on to their country’s senior teams a couple of weeks after, but the GB senior team were holding me off and making me wait a little bit.

“Considering what I had won, I felt like I got a little bit mistreated.

“I was made to do more assessments but there were boys before me that got on the team who had not won even a quarter of what I won in my boxing career and that’s what matters.

“You can be a good trainer and do bits and bobs in the gym but if you are getting the results in competition, that’s the main thing.

“I think I’d have been a good shot to have won a medal, if not a gold medal, at the Tokyo Olympics but I just had to sit down with my dad and my amateur coach at the time and we came to the agreement of striking while the iron is hot and turning pro.

“There was no point trying to wait for Tokyo or Paris because what if I didn’t get there? Instead, while my name was getting talked about in the world of amateur boxing and while my name was big, we thought it was time to turn pro now.”

Price eventually made that switch last October in signing with Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing stable with the Leeds fighter determined to ensure he placed himself in the best possible hands for his pursuits of glory as a pro.

Price explained: “Dave Coldwell who is now my trainer and manager is one of the best in the business so I got in with him and then I just took my time.

“I didn’t rush into signing with anyone, we travelled about sparring and went over to America and LA and trained with Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Boxing Gym and then the decision came to sign with Matchroom.

“I believe they are probably the best promotion team in the business.”

With Hearn, the feeling was mutual.

“Hopey was an outstanding amateur and although he is still very young, his boxing IQ is well beyond his years,” said Hearn.

“I have watched him working with Dave Coldwell and I strongly believe with the development and experience he will go all the way to the very top.”

And within just two months of turning pro, Price then found himself fighting on one of the biggest stages of the year as the super bantamweight defeated Swedi Mohamed via TKO in Saudi Arabia on the undercard of Joshua’s world title fight against Andy Ruiz JR.

That outing came just one month after Price’s successful pro debut via a victory on points against Joel Sanchez at Manchester Arena.

Price was then due to take in his third fight at Doncaster Dome this weekend only for the scheduled bout to be cancelled due to the global coronavirus crisis.

Yet Price hopes he will be back out again this summer with both his amateur glories and his Saudi Arabia outing not surprisingly giving the teen a thirst for the big time.

“My second pro fight was probably on the biggest show of last year on the Joshua v Ruiz undercard in Saudi Arabia,” said Price.

“It was an unbelievable experience for me just being out there so early around all the top fighters.

“Everyone who was anyone was there really from Canelo Alvarez to Mike Tyson.

“All the greats came over to watch the fight and it was a bit mad really as these were the people I had always watched on the TV.

“But that’s where I want to be, at that same level. I want to be talked about like they are talked about in a few years’ time too.”

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