LIVERPOOL, England -- David Price has earmarked Tony Thompson as his first big-name American opponent on his way to what he hopes will be a world heavyweight title fight in 2013.
Price and manager Frank Maloney were quick to call out Thompson on Friday night, just minutes after the British heavyweight champion had smashed his way through yet another former world title contender in fellow Brit Matt Skelton.
Already dubbed a sensation on this side of the Atlantic -- where he has now racked up 13 stoppages in 15 straight victories since handing in his amateur headguard following a bronze medal-winning performance at the Olympic Games in 2004 -- Price proved once again that he's a real-deal contender.
The 29-year-old effectively ended Skelton's career just 2 minutes, 56 seconds into the second round, and now the 6-foot-8, 250-pound wrecking machine has his sights set on lighting up rings stateside. Although Skelton (28-7, 23 KOs) lasted far longer than Price's last victim, Audley Harrison (who was KO'd in 62 seconds), Price maintains that he's ready for the next level.
"Next year, for sure, I want to crack America. That's high on the agenda," Price told ESPN.com. "I've done a lot of rounds in U.S. gyms already, but it's certainly not the same as competitive rounds. We had a date in Atlantic City this past summer, but it never made sense in the end. But tonight's fight went out on U.S. TV once more, and next I want to fight there live."
And Thompson is the opponent of choice for the contender's camp, and fits in with the step up that Price is pushing for.
"Thompson is a big, tall, awkward southpaw -- a bit like Harrison," Price said. "But again, it just proves that I'm not looking to do things the easy way. If he was good enough to fight [Wladimir] Klitschko six months ago, then he's a good next opponent for me."
Price (15-0, 13 KOs) is no stranger to U.S. shores. He presently divides his training camps between trips across Eastern Europe and regular working vacations in Philadelphia, New York and Las Vegas. But he clearly has a burning desire to prove himself in front of American fans too.
Skelton did manage to land a scuffing right hand Friday at Aintree Racecourse, along with more than a number of stray head-butts. But in the end, he was no different than any of the other opponents bulldozed by Price, who has displayed exciting power in both hands and, perhaps most satisfyingly, a predatory taste for the finish.
It's clear the domestic leash needs to come off now, however, and Price wants and needs to be tested on foreign shores. And with Maloney at the helm of the ship -- the same diminutive London businessman who took Britain's greatest heavyweight champion, Lennox Lewis, to the top of the sport -- Price's world title crusade is well and truly on track.
Said Maloney of his charge: "I've seen heavyweights of all shapes and sizes from all over the world, and it's just about getting this fella into the right place now.
"Tony Thompson is another step towards a world title fight, and that's a fight we are currently negotiating. I hear one of the Klitschkos will retire next year, and when he does we'll be ready to pounce. Seth Mitchell has been exposed; believe me, there is only one heavyweight champion in waiting in the world right now, and he's from Liverpool."