Price too strong for Skelton
David Price's impressive second-round stoppage of Matt Skelton helped him retain his British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles in Liverpool.
While former cricketer Andrew Flintoff's flirtation with professional boxing stole the headlines on Friday night, Liverpudlian Price sought to enhance his growing reputation as a future world champion at Aintree Racecourse.
The 29-year-old Olympic bronze medalist followed impressive recent wins over the likes of John McDermott, Sam Sexton and Audley Harrison with a similarly destructive hammering of veteran Skelton.
The 45-year-old Bedford brawler, who came into the ring with a 28-6 (23 KOs) record, had been slated as an opponent but boasted a wealth of experience having fought Ruslan Chagaev for the WBA title four years ago.
But 6ft 8in Price (14-0, 12 KOs) was the overwhelming favourite as he looks to move onto European or world level in the next 12 months.
While he was expected to win - and win in style - Skelton was tipped to at least put up more of a fight than the champion's previous conquests.
In front of more than 2,000 fans at the famous racecourse, Price had a tough start as Skelton burst forward from the opening bell and landed an aggressive but untidy three-punch flurry.
Price looked a little surprised but took it well and landed a couple of short counters. Skelton kept coming before Price feinted with the jab and hammered home a straight right hand, before landing a hooking right moments later.
Skelton landed an overhand right early in the second but Price winged in a right of his own. As predicted by some, Skelton was putting up a decent effort early on.
A jab and right hand hurt Skelton, though, and Price looked to apply the finishing touches.
The Bedford man held firm despite coming under heavy fire but when a right to the head preceded two sharp lefts to the ribs, Skelton crumpled to the canvas towards the end of the round.
Referee Richie Davies administered the count - not noticing the towel surprisingly thrown in by Skelton's corner - but when trainer Kevin Sanders entered the ring to pull his man out, the official had already counted out the challenger.
Price, who is now expected to fight American former world title challenger Tony Thompson in the new year, was understandably pleased with his performance.
"Matt put it on me straight away and we were not expecting that," he said.
"It took me by surprise even though we know what he is about. It was a bit scrappy at times but that is what happens when you fight Matt Skelton. Nobody has done that to him. It means something that I managed to take him out in two rounds.
"Nobody has done a number on him like that. He did make things a bit awkward for me at times. To be honest it has been difficult to get fights for me.
"After Audley Harrison I got straight back in the gym. It was only this week that I started getting excited about the fight. So I had to do a professional job.
"The body shots are something that we have been working on for some time.. I just don't get many opportunities to throw them. Usually I land the big shots to the head and guys have been going."