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FURY DODGES PRICE FIGHT; No summer showdown for heavyweights duo EXCLUSIVE.

Byline: PHIL KIRKBRIDE

TYSON FURY is ready to vacate his British and Commonwealth titles and thus scupper hopes of a summer showdown with David Price.

Price's one round knockout of John McDermott on Saturday night meant he became the mandatory challenger for the Lonsdale Belt, having already secured his shot at the Commonwealth crown with last February's victory over Osbourne Machimana.

After blasting out McDermott in 73 seconds at the Olympia, new English heavyweight champion Price had expressed his confidence that "fighting man" Fury would not back away from a showdown and defend his British title against him this year.

However, the ECHO understands Fury, whose profile has grown with recent fights on terrestrial television, intends to relinquish his two belts in order to chase international honours.

Such a move would keep distance between himself and Price until a European or world title is on the line when their rivalry has intensified and the clamour for the fight has increased.

News of Fury's plans will disappoint the British fight fans who are now not likely to see these two giant domestic heavyweight do battle until at least next year.

The proposed contest between Fury and Price was to be put out for purse bids on February 8 but is now expected to be for the vacant belts with Price to take on another contender nominated by the British Boxing Board of Control and the Commonwealth Boxing Council.

Promoter Frank Maloney will try and win the right to stage the contest but is also working on getting Price a fight in the United States beforehand, possibly on the undercard of Matthew Macklin's world middleweight title bid against Sergio Martinez in New York on March 17.

"I am talking to a couple of people in the States and Sky about his next fight; his name is growing," said Maloney of Price.

"We really appreciate the Liverpool fans and the help they have given in building David.

"I've started selling tickets for David's fights to a group in London and they swore they'd never sing along to 'You'll Never Walk Alone' but they were seen on television on Saturday singing along as David walked to the ring. It shows that he really is becoming a British star.

"He is becoming an all-round fighter and if I had to compare him, then he will be the Lennox Lewis of this generation.

"We will move David along like we did Lennox because if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

"He is doing the same things Lennox did.

He uses a dietician, a weights coach and listens to his trainer."

Maloney took Price to the World Boxing Council convention in December to help him network with some of the sport's most influential people and revealed the organisation's president made a call to the Olympia on Saturday night to check on the heavyweight's clash with McDermott.

"Jose Sulaiman phoned up on Saturday night to see how the fight went and he told me he wants David Price to be world champion," said Maloney.

"David met some of the high rollers of boxing and he came across as a nice person to them. There is more to boxing than just fighting, you need to cover every aspect "Lennox Lewis earned around $100m in his career and I believe David can out do that. I will stake my reputation that he will do that."

Tony Bellew, meanwhile, will defend his British light-heavyweight title against Danny McIntosh on April, 14 at the ECHO Arena.

Dave Coldwell promotes and will hold a head-to-head press conference next week to reveal the full details of the show.

CAPTION(S):

BIG HIT: Liverpool boxer David Price during his victory over John McDermott at The Olympia on Saturday night Photo by JAMES MALONEY
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 24, 2012
Words:628
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