BN: How settled are you in retirement?

I’m really happy. I’ve been running my own business since 2020. I’d had a good run of fights where I’d done well financially and I invested a bit of money in property and started my own business. Before that, I was only earning good money when I was British champion. I’d had a few years of worrying about the next payday – when the next fight would even be. It was okay when I was at the Sauerlands, but the period between that and when I fought [in 2018, Alexander] Povetkin there was a bit of uncertainty.

Life after boxing was always a big thing for me. “What am I gonna do to provide for my family [Price has two children with wife Jade, and also has two dogs] after boxing?” After it became apparent I weren’t gonna be a champion or make millions and go on a golf course for the rest of me life, that was always in the forefront of me mind. “Now I can hang them up.” It weren’t an instant decision overnight – it was gradual. I still had one foot in, one foot out. It was after I’d done a couple of weeks’ training, I was lying on the bed absolutely exhausted – wiped out. “I can’t put myself through this anymore.” It weren’t just the physical side; it was emotionally draining. You don’t walk out the gym feeling a million dollars – you’re getting put through the mill.

Outlook Energy Solutions. We install solar panels; renewable energies; insulations. Kind of like what I was doing before I went full-time in boxing – I was a central heating engineer. We help people in fuel poverty – we’ll go and do this work free of charge for them. That’s the most satisfying part of it – an old widow, young family, single mother is struggling to pay the bills and we’ll go in and upgrade her property to be more energy efficient; warmer; save money on her bills. That’s something I’m passionate about. I’ve got purpose to get up every morning. I’ve got things to keep me occupied through the day. I’m busy; I’m hands on.

I do have me moments where I miss the gym; the being a professional sportsman; being a fighter; the notoriety of being a fighter and everything else. But I do have to remind meself sometimes that I fucking hated it towards the end. I hated it. So every time I feel a bit melancholy or nostalgic I do have to remind meself it weren’t very enjoyable towards the end – and even sometimes before that.

It was when I started getting paid that the enjoyment went out of it. I started getting paid as an amateur – the pureness of it kind of went then. You’ve got to maintain it by succeeding; the pure joy went out of it early. The unhappiest times were travelling up to Dave Coldwell’s gym in Rotherham. That was me out of me comfort zone – away from home, in a hotel room, time on me hands to sit doing fuck all. I didn’t even have a promoter so I didn’t even know when I was fighting. I hated it then and wanted to retire but I needed the money. When Tommy Brooks was over as a trainer – it was just me, him and Franny Smith, who was great all through me career, in a little lock-up unit in Bootle in Liverpool. I was dwelling on the Tony Thompson fights, and don’t look back on those times with great fondness. Even fighting [in 2017, Kamil] Sokolowski on a six-rounder in Brentwood – I got paid £10,000, and I was lucky to get that. “I’ve got no one’s show I can fight on – I might have to go back to work.” It’s stressful. I got dead fortunate, got the Povetkin fight and a few decent fights and was alright. Joe McNally gave me the new lease of life I needed at that point.

BN: How satisfied are you with your career?

It depends what type of mood I’m in. If I’m in a positive mood I’m satisfied, but I might have days where I feel a little bit dissatisfied and not happy with the way things went. “I could have done better.” The key for me is the acceptance – I’ve got to accept my career ended how it did, with what I’d achieved. I can’t change that now so I have to accept it. But I also have to accept that, despite many people believing and me briefly believing I could have been the next big thing, I simply just weren’t good enough, and that’s why I didn’t do it. It doesn’t mean I weren’t good, ‘cause I was, and I had a good career, but I weren’t good enough to be the very best. Accepting that is a really powerful thing. It’s liberating.

I’ll think about amateur fights in 2004 – that no one knows about – the little things can creep into your mind. We all have little demons in our head which will creep in. It all depends what type of mood I’m in. That can depend on whether I’ve had a weekend out on the booze, or if I’m tired. I’m in a good positive mindset at the minute – long may that continue.

I had big anxiety issues – I didn’t realise at the time. I just thought that was normal – the way you were meant to feel. I weren’t anxious about boxing – it was anxiety in general, and a lot of it stemmed from boxing and pressure to earn money and keep providing for my family. It’s only now I know what it is, and it was quite high anxiety a lot of the time.

Me wife used to tell me I had anxiety when I was boxing, and I’d take it as an insult. I didn’t even know what the word meant, but I did have it. As you get older you start becoming aware of how you feel, and a lot more things are in the media about that type of thing. The reason I know I had it is I haven’t got it anymore. It was the pressures of boxing; of performing; not wanting to let people down. General fatigue; picking up bugs and illnesses; I had it down to the physical side of training but it was definitely emotional and mental. Me moods as well, around the house; depression and anxiety comes hand in hand. When I was going up to Dave Coldwell’s gym was when it was the worst for me.

[There’s] loads of regrets. This is a regret in life as well – I wish I’d have embraced being the size I am when I was younger, but I didn’t like being so big. I wish I’d have embraced it and stood forward and been proud of being big, in life and in boxing – and utilised me size better. But because I didn’t like being tall when I was younger I didn’t want to be the stereotypical tall boxer – throw the jab a lot and use the reach. If I could do it again I’d have done more mental coaching early doors, but I weren’t having it. I didn’t believe in it – saw it as a weakness – working with a mind coach. I started after the Tony Thompson fight [in 2013], and it was good, and even more so at the end – when you become more receptive of it, it’s great. I wish I’d have done the small things that give you marginal gains. Staying in the gym the extra 10 minutes to do a bit more stretching. A bit more groundwork. Rehab on injuries. Little things like that. They were in my control.

Things that were out of my control were me punch resistance – I couldn’t take the best shot. The punch resistance transitioned into the engine. I got caught; buzzed; wobbled; the adrenaline kicks in, the heart rate comes up, the breathing gets heavier and the panic is there. That’s why I struggled with me engine as well. The adrenaline dump would come in then. I [also] dread to think how many times I’ve been concussed. But overall I can’t have regrets, because I have to accept it’s done.

Some would give their right hand to be where I am, mentally and emotionally, after boxing. I’m definitely at peace.

BN: Who was the best you fought?

Povetkin. His accuracy; his timing. His pedigree – Olympic champion.

BN: If you’d beaten him you’d have challenged the undefeated Anthony Joshua…

I probably felt he’d have battered me, but if I’d beat Povetkin then I’d have gone into the fight with some degree of confidence. It’d have been a different story. Before the Povetkin fight, “You’re fighting Joshua next”. “Fucking hell.” That’s something that can come into your head sometimes [in retirement], but it’s all ifs and buts.

BN: Could you have beaten Tyson Fury when that fight looked likely, in 2013?

I’d have had a great chance of winning that fight then. He was still raw; brawling. I had great momentum, and was putting people away left, right and centre. Even later on I don’t know how many fights I had where I didn’t at least drop or wobble someone badly, but earlier on in me career me hands were in great condition – I had injuries later on – I think I could have [beaten Fury]. Boxing’s not who you fight, it’s who you don’t fight, and that was what the Furys knew. It’s who you fight and when you fight them, and they knew at that time, “We’ll wait for this one”. But it didn’t come. That’s another big, “What if?”.

Part of me thought [later on] he might think, “I want to beat the last man that beat me”. “I wonder if he’d go for it” – if he was running out of challenges; running out of ideas.

I see him a couple of years ago when his baby was in hospital in Liverpool, and run with him around the park. He got in touch to reach out and go for a run, but apart from that I don’t keep in touch with him.

He’s got to be [one of the best heavyweights ever]. He’s still undefeated; long career; beat Deontay Wilder, who’s a great fighter, twice.

There are fighters more deserving [of fighting Fury than Francis Ngannou]. I’d rather see him in the ring with a good fighter – a boxer.

He’ll fight [Oleksandr] Usyk if he sees Usyk with a bit of a sluggish performance. He might go, “Right, now’s the time”. That’s just wise, really – clever. It’s being business-minded. If he was backed into a corner I’d back him and say he’ll beat him, but you want everything in your favour.

BN: Did you ever get over those defeats by Tony Thompson?

Only years later. I was unforgiving to myself. I was my own worst critic, so it took years to let that go. It took years to let losing in the [Beijing 2008] Olympics semi-final go [Roberto Cammarelle was Price’s opponent]. When I won the British title [in 2012, stopping Sam Sexton] I let that go – I felt like I’d redeemed meself.

BN: How much do the challenges Joshua’s faced in recent years resonate?

I know what he’s thinking; what he’s going through. He’s his own worst critic, and he’s a perfectionist, and perfectionism – although it’s good to a degree, it’s not good ‘cause you’re never happy, because you’ll never be perfect. You’re very rarely happy – even when you’re winning fights, unless your performance has been spot-on. He probably doesn’t feel like he won his last fight, against Jermaine Franklin – he feels like he lost that fight. He needs to let go of wanting to please people – impress people – and just enjoy being a fighter. I can see the traits. He just needs someone who knows him – knows how to make him tick and get the best out of him.

I don’t think he’ll feel comfortable [against a late-replacement opponent on Saturday] ‘cause the last time this happened it all went wrong for him – that’ll be in his head. There’ll be more pressure on him to win convincingly. He won’t get the same satisfaction of winning, because the opponent came in at short notice. “I’ve won, but I didn’t impress everyone, so I don’t feel like I’ve won.” When I fought Kash Ali [in 2019] and he got disqualified I didn’t feel like I’d won. You start trying to fight opinions. “I’ll show you – I need to get people impressed again.” That ain’t ever going to happen – once they’ve made their mind up, they’re gone. He’s trying to win back the adulation when that’s not possible. He’s stuck between a rock and a hard place.

BN: How do you feel about your former promoters, the Sauerlands, backing Misfits Boxing?

I’ve seen Kalle quite heavily involved in that. I suppose they lost the big TV deal they had for years in Germany, and tried to break the UK market a couple of times – I was the first port of call to try to do that. They’re involved in big fights and big shows [outside of Misfits] but they’ve probably just seen an opportunity, and they’re businessmen at the end of the day. If they don’t do it, someone else will. It hasn’t altered me respect for them.

BN: How about your former sparring partner Dillian Whyte becoming caught up in a drugs-testing controversy?

When I see fights called off because of drug testing I’m not really surprised, but I was surprised when it was Dillian, only ‘cause he’s had the issues before. I don’t think he’d do anything at this stage to jeopardise his career. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. Last time it happened [when Whyte defeated Oscar Rivas in 2019] I was part of a show that could have got called off and didn’t [Price defeated Dave Allen].

It’s probably more rife at the lower levels than the higher levels, where there’s less chance of random drug testing. The more advanced you are in your career the more there is to lose, but I’ve always said that and then turned out to be wrong, ‘cause people are willing to take a chance to get that extra percentage it’ll give them. You suspect it’s rife, rather than know, but there’s way too many grey areas in boxing.

It’s got to be a ban for life [for those found guilty]. But there are circumstances where it may have been an innocent mistake – a supplement; contamination. It’s finding the evidence to prove it wasn’t. Look at Jarrell Miller – he was on every steroid under the sun. Look at Erkan Teper who knocked me out [in 2015]. They should have got banned for life, ‘cause they were on performance-enhancing drugs – all the ingredients that it takes for someone to get really hurt in a boxing ring. They could well have just gone to jail for that. But when you’re talking a banned substance that might be a stimulant, then maybe not – but these things can be masking agents for the naughtier stuff. There’s that many grey areas – it’s like the wild west. There’s just no way of policing it.

I don’t think there’s intent or malice in what’s been found. It’ll be interesting to see what it is. Why would a man coming towards the end of his career, in the last big-money fight, risk it all? I just don’t see it. That might be me being naive.