David Price ready for world title shot within five fights
David Price is adamant he will be ready for a world title shot within his next five fights, including his bout against American Tony Thompson on 23 February.
Heavyweight Price's 16th paid fight will be against former two-time world title challenger Thompson in Liverpool.
"By the time I've had another two fights after Thompson, the only people left to fight will be whoever holds the world titles," Price told BBC Sport.
"Without a doubt I'll be fighting for a world title in the next five fights."
Thompson, 41, has a wealth of experience at the highest level, losing three times in 39 fights, including twice to current WBA, IBF and WBO title-holder Wladimir Klitschko.
Klitschko knocked Thompson out in six rounds in his most recent fight in July but Price believes the American is a big step up in class.
"I've proved I'm above and beyond domestic level, now I've got the platform to move on to world level," said Price, whose last win was a second-round knockout of fellow Briton Matt Skelton in November.
"To be fighting someone who fought for a world title only five months ago, it's a massive step up in class. It's up to me to prove I belong at that level.
"I don't want to be treading water, fighting domestic fights and defending the Lonsdale Belt all the time. I need fresh challenges to take me to the next level and Tony Thompson is the perfect fit.
"He offers the experience of being in the ring with Wladimir Klitschko twice, he offers a record that is nothing to be sniffed at. He's a 6ft 5in, tricky southpaw. So it's going to be a test of concentration, of sticking to tactics.
"I'm currently ranked ninth with the WBC but a good win will propel me forward, especially if I can do it in style. If I can do a cleaner job than Klitschko did on him that will send a message out."
Price's manager and promoter Frank Maloney said purse bids for a potential British title defence against Manchester's Tyson Fury have been put back to February, while adding the fight was unlikely to happen in 2013.
"We'd like the fight to happen but I can't work miracles," Maloney told BBC Sport.
"I'd sit down and talk and try to make that fight. Boxing's the entertainment business and David Price against Tyson Fury would do a lot for British boxing, boost the popularity of the sport."
The 29-year-old Price, who is undefeated in 15 fights, conceded a match against Fury was more likely to happen if Fury wins a world title.
Fury's stated aim is to fight for a world title in 2013, against either Wladimir or Vitali Klitschko, who holds the WBC title.
"It's not out of the question but it depends on his position," said Price.
"He's close to getting a world title fight and he's obviously not going to miss that opportunity by fighting me, who would be an absolute nightmare for him, no matter what he believes.
"So I think it's more likely to happen after he's fought for a world title - win or lose he'll want to come back and fight me after that."