Lauren Price not letting thoughts of a future in professional ranks cloud her focus on Tokyo
Lauren Price has waited too long for her chance to reach an Olympic Games to be distracted by thoughts about what might happen next.
Great Britain’s best hope of a gold medal at Tokyo 2020 will take part in the opening bout as the European boxing qualifiers restart in Paris on Friday against Davina Michel, of France, knowing a win will put her just one step away from Tokyo.
As the world of women's professional boxing grows, Price, the middleweight, can expect to get some lucrative offers to come her way. However, Price is not about to lose focus. Indeed, after Tokyo, her next target might just be the Paris Olympics in 2024.
“I’ve had a few people get in touch on social media and ask what my plans are, but I have just said that my only focus is Tokyo," Price said. "I haven’t thought about it.
"I haven’t really followed pro boxing until the last year. I never took much interest, I always thought that the levels when you go to the Worlds or the Olympics are so much higher. The likes of Nicola Adams did two Olympic cycles."
Price needs two wins in Paris to secure her spot in Tokyo. It has been assumed that Price – who was made favourite for gold in Tokyo after winning gold medal at the World Championships and European Games in 2019 and Commonwealth Games the year before - would turn professional after Tokyo, but she makes it clear that is far from being a certainty and she may stick around.
“Women’s professional boxing is improving all the time,” Price said. “The likes of Katie Taylor was the best in the amateurs and now she is ruling the pros. In the UK, the likes of Chantelle Cameron, Terri Harper and Savannah Marshall have all stepped up. It is getting bigger, but for me there aren’t enough girls out there to turn over. My only focus has been Tokyo. I might do another cycle yet, I’m not too sure, but in three or four years it might be bigger again.
“As a professional, you could have a world title within three or five fights, then where do you go from there? If I could medal at a Worlds and an Olympics, I am on funding and I am earning quite a good wage for myself. I love travelling the world, seeing different countries and experiencing different places.
“Going to the Olympics has been a dream of mine since I was eight. That is all I am focussing on.”
Price: 'I was too quick for Hammer'
The lines between amateurs and professionals have been blurred over the years.
For the first time, in 2016, professionals were allowed to box at the Olympic Games. While some countries are happy to consider professionals for selection, Britain do not.
But as much as the professionals have risen, recently, led by former Olympic gold medal-winners Katie Taylor, Claressa Shields and Nicola Adams, there is no sign that the Olympic arena will be easy pickings for the professionals as many believed it would be.
Some big professional names from Europe are trying their luck at getting to Tokyo. For Delfine Persoon, the long-standing world champion from Belgium, her bid lasted just one bout, as she was beaten in her opening contest in London.
Maiva Hamadouche, the IBF super-featherweight champion from France, is among those putting their professional career on hold, while another is Christina Hammer, the German, who reigned as world middleweight champion for nearly nine years.
Price, 26, from Newport in South Wales, has had a close look at Hammer, after they sparred together in Belfast a few weeks ago. It confirmed her belief that it is a tough job for professionals, used to boxing ten two-minute rounds, over the shorter distance of three three-minute rounds.
“I suppose, looking at it from the pros, three-threes is a lot faster,” Price said.
“When I sparred her, I didn’t really know what to expect. To be honest, I didn’t know that much about her, but someone said she was a pro. I thought I would just take a look first round, but I was too quick for her. One of the girls showed me her fighting Shields, I was pleased with my spar after that.
“That’s usual when someone comes back from being a pro, or a pro comes in the gym, they find that the amateurs are quick for her.”