Teper Rises, Price Drops

PRICE REDUCTION – Much of the critical reaction to Erkan Teper’s surprising two round butt kick of David Price for the vacant EBU (European) heavyweight title related to the unfulfilled expectations of Price, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, overly hyped as a strong candidate for the real world championship.

Perhaps a bit more attention should be paid to the accomplishments of 33 year old Teper, now 15-0 (10),  a still generally unknown commodity whose consistent attack paved the way for Price’s downfall Saturday night in Ludwigsburg, Germany.

Most of the reported, small amount of wagering put down for this affair supposedly backed Teper, which means either at least a few folks were aware of his strengths or that Price’s critics remained skeptical.

At the weigh-in, Teper, 252, looked less like a boxer than a beer salesman, but he sure looked like a fighter once the first bell rang. 6’5 Teper charged into the 6’8 Price immediately, and worked from awkward, relatively low angles before firing big, downward shots that bothered Price, 249, from the first one that landed.

Teper mauled his way in, while Price fired wide counters from both sides. Price stayed busy enough, with jabs that looked five meters long, but Teper did an efficient job of keeping his gloves up next to his face and picked off almost all of Price’s leads.

The first round was close and somewhat sloppy, but there was a growing sense of Teper imposing his will. He followed Price around the strands and opened a nick on his left eye.

Most punches Teper landed were grazing or off the mark, but tell that to the leather as it spanks you down. In the 2nd session, a deceiving short left inside caught Price clean and dropped him, stiff as an uprooted tree trunk, under a neutral turnbuckle.

During interviews with German TV, a jovial, sportsmanlike Teper tried to pretend Price had been a formidable challenge tonight, but the truth is Teper was unmarked, if not completely untouched.

Teper, from Ahlen, is one of the few German born heavyweights in territory currently crowded with Eastern European expats. That makes for plenty of interesting, entry level collisions between a wide range of big bruisers.

In Teper’s case, it looks like his resume of local unsung heroes (Timur Musafarov SD 8), usual suspects (Michael Sprott TKO 1) and solid tutors (Johann Duhaupas UD12) has served him well enough so far.

Teper now has a foothold beyond Germany in big boy land. The Euro belt may not add up to much in the credential department, but it could still increase marquee value for a decent payday against a better known opponent.

For Teper, the most attractive option is probably to go after WBA “Regular” titlist Ruslan Chagaev, if Chagaev isn’t really stuck for eternity by contractual obligations to meet Fres Oquendo and Lucas Browne.

Right now, Teper also shapes up as one of the better possibilities for rising Anthony Joshua, but whether either undefeated prospect wants to take the risk/reward of a premature crossroad fight may require more financial bother than its worth.

If Teper really wanted to make the biggest jump possible, he might try to convince Deontay Wilder to give him the upcoming WBC shot in September. That fight makes sense for both sides in a number of categories like opponent credibility, promotional expenses, potential fireworks and general marketability. That probably makes the bout a very long shot to happen.

Would Team Teper, who unexpectedly outbid Price’s bigger promoter Sauerland Event, be wise to exploit Wilder’s search for a credible opponent with a hard to resist, bargain basement compromise, solely on belief that Teper is ready enough, and may not get such an opportunity again soon? Is the European belt enough of a calling card? Such are the questions of promotional management.

The question of Price’s future is less comfortable.

“I just want to apologize to my team, my family, my friends and all my supporters who came out to Germany for me,” said Price afterward, without need. “It’s too early to come to a proper decision about my future. I’ll have to have a long think.”

Anyone who’s been in noteworthy rings as much as Price, 19-3 (16), has nothing about fighting to apologize for. Unfortunately, his think should include viewing his losses against Teper and Tony Thompson, plus consultation with medical specialists about head trauma.

32 year-old Price may not be finished, but he has a long way to go before regaining credibility.

For boxing fans, Erkan Teper still has a lot to prove, but right now he doesn’t have anywhere near as much to prove as David Price.