Lauren Price showcases ‘greatness’ in world title triumph with Natasha Jonas and Ivana Habazin on horizon

Wales’ Lauren Price talks world title victory, Cardiff atmosphere and future ambitions after beating Jessica McCaskill; watch Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk live on Sky Sports Box Office on Saturday May 18; ring walks in Saudi Arabia expected around 11pm UK and Ireland time

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Lauren Price claimed the IBO, WBA and Ring Magazine welterweight world titles with a dominant win over Jessica McCaskill

Lauren Price was crowned Wales’ first female boxing world champion on Saturday. Of all things, trainer Rob McCracken nodded to an improvement in her running, such is the meticulous no-stone-unturned preparation behind the new unified welterweight titlist.

The ceiling is high, with the potential to surpass that of any champion in the women’s game. Both Price and her team know it.

That it took her a mere seven fights to join the elite suggests she is just getting started.

“Well, you’re not sure, are you? But she’s good enough to box with anybody in the world,” said McCracken, when asked if he expected Price’s maiden world title to arrive so quickly. “She’s a special talent. She’s got everything she needs.

“Talent wise, you’ve got everything. It’s just doing things at the right time and a little change is her running. She probably won’t mention it, her running wasn’t hard enough for the last couple of fights so we changed her running up, a bit more sparring.

“She’ll just get better and better, it’s really nice to be part of the journey at the start of her professional career, she was absolutely fantastic tonight.”

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The Olympic champion continued a largely-flawless start to her professional career as she neutralised the front-foot ferocity of Jessica McCaskill in slick fashion to snatch the American’s welterweight belts in front of her home fans.

It capped a memorable Welsh homecoming for the 29-year-old, who had been greeted by a spine-tingling atmosphere as she entered to ‘Yma o Hyd’ at the Utilita Arena in Cardiff.

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Price said her victory is the start of many more big nights in Cardiff

“Tonight on top of the ramp, I’ve never experienced that before in my life,” said Price. “That crowd getting behind me was something I will remember for the rest of my life.

“I said all along we wouldn’t beat that Olympic gold medal, but that ring walk and the support I received is definitely up there with it.”

Pressure? What pressure? Price, while admitting to ‘human’ nerves ahead of her Cardiff ring walk, has been unflappable in the face of soaring expectations surrounding her career.

When McCaskill came out swinging, she barely flinched. In the end, the difference in skill level was chasmic.

“Looking at my career, when you box at the Olympics it’s the pinnacle of the sport, and when you rank No 1 in the world going into the Olympics you’ve got pressure on you,” she said.

“All the experiences, all the tournaments done as an amateur, and I know amateurs are different to the pro game, but from a pressure point of view, I’ve had pressure all my life.

“I was confident this week, my team was confident and as long as my team believe in me and I believe in myself, nobody else’s opinion really matters.”

Image: The skill level in Price's performance vs McCaskill was outstanding

Former undisputed champion McCaskill had suggested it might be a step too far for Price at this stage in her career; whether she meant it or not, the sentiment was mistaken.

“What I just witnessed and what we just witnessed was greatness, a super-talented complete fighter,” said BOXXER founder and CEO Ben Shalom.

“She must be the first fighter to become world champion without losing a round, and that is special. What an atmosphere. There’s going to be many many big nights ahead.”

Price had vowed to keep the belts in Wales. Now she has them, there are no plans to let them leave.

Have it her way and a sell-out show at the Principality Stadium will be on the cards.

“I want to come back and defend my belts in a massive fight. There are some great fights for me in the 147 division, I want to go all the way,” she said.

Image: Price has her eye on a Cardiff bout at the Principality Stadium, defending her belts

For now, though, she joked it was back to her nan’s for pigs in blankets as part of a celebratory Sunday dinner.

There were a couple of nods as to what might lie ahead for Price, with WBC world champion Ivana Habazin and two-weight world champion Natasha Jonas watching on in Cardiff.

“Tasha Jones of course is a huge fight that I do believe will happen, whether it’s next or not,” said Shalom. “We’ll see. We’ll have to speak to both of them, they’re both great champions but tonight is about enjoying it.

“What is amazing is that welterweight division has so many big names, so many big fights, so many big opportunities. And that’s been an issue for women’s boxing.

“In the past you’ve had those stars, but you’ve not had those big rivalries. Lauren is coming in right at the right time and there are huge nights in this division and beyond.”

How to book Fury v Usyk on Sky Sports Box Office

It’s one of the biggest sporting events in a generation. Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk collide for the undisputed world heavyweight championship on Saturday May 18, live on Sky Sports Box Office. Book the fight now.

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