David Price is unsurprised that the “meticulous” Joe McNally has revived Liam Smith’s career.
Smith on Saturday fights Chris Eubank Jr for the second time, having become the first fighter to stop him when in January as the underdog he beat him inside four rounds.
After successive victories over Liam Williams, Smith lost for the second time, via decision to Jaime Munguia, and perhaps struggled for momentum until in October 2021 – having by then replaced the respected Joe Gallagher with McNally – stopping Anthony Fowler in eight.
Before the victory over Eubank Jr he also stopped Jessie Vargas and Hassan Mwakinyo, and should on Saturday at the Manchester Arena he again defeat Eubank Jr, he will not only be more respected than ever, he will also – crucially in the context of a 35-year-old fighter’s financial security – have had successive pay-per-view fights.
Price worked with McNally for the first time when he was considering retirement, and defeated Kamil Sokolowski to earn the fight with Alexander Povetkin and therefore one of his biggest purses. He also recorded victories over Tom Little, David Allen and Kash Ali, before retiring after the trainer rescued him from further punishment the night of the defeat by Derek Chisora.
“He gave me the new lease of life that I needed at that point in my career,” Price told ProBox TV. “Joe McNally’s young, hungry, forward-thinking, good way about him; he knows how to speak to fighters because he’s been there himself. You know he’s younger than me, and we’ve got a lot in common. In boxing and outside of boxing as well, and obviously [we’ve] known each other for a long time.
“He was the right man for that stage in my career, and like, he’ll go from strength to strength, him and his cousin Declan [O’Rourke]; they’ve got a great stable. I went over there to see them a few weeks ago. Going back to what we were talking about, about missing boxing and everything else – it was the third time I went into the gym [the Rotunda] for a while, and I did walk out missing it.
“JJ [James] Metcalf was sparring; Josh Taylor was on the bike and getting a sweat on, getting the weight off, and just chatting away to the lads, and I walked out of there and did get a pang of ‘I’m missing this’ and a bit emotional. I was like, ‘Right, I need to stay away from there then’ for that reason, because I don’t want to be feeling like that.
“That didn’t last long, because my phone rang seconds later and something else was going on, which is the good thing about my decision [to retire]. But yeah, [McNally] is great, [and] what I will say is they fucking work so hard, and everything that’s coming their way, they deserve.”
Smith’s relationship with McNally appears one of his advantages over the 33-year-old Eubank Jr, who will have Brian McIntyre in his corner for the first time despite starting preparations for Saturday’s rematch under the supervision of Roy Jones Jnr and David Haye.
“Obviously, [McNally and assistant O’Rourke are] getting results, but they put a hell of a lot of effort into what they’re doing,” Price continued. “Time and effort; meticulous; so hard.
“I’ve seen it first hand, and I’m proud of them really, because I was the first one who was with them on the big shows. You know, fighting in Wembley; fighting in Cardiff; fighting on the big old school shows, and I was there when they were just finding their feet, and they kind of got thrown in the deep end with me; very little experience as a pro coach.
“I would like to think they’ve gone on as they’ve moved forward, and got better and bigger. So yeah, I’m made up. I’m proud of them.”