From footballer to fighter, Lauren Price looking to take fast lane to the top

Lauren Price, above, is fighting for her first title fight in just her seventh professional bout. Getty

Lauren Price fights former undisputed champion Jessica McCaskill in only her seventh professional fight on Saturday, but insists her first world title fight has not come too soon.

Price (6-0, 1 KO), 29, has moved fast in the professional ranks since she won a gold medal at the last Olympic Games in 2021 and is not daunted by the task of facing McCaskill for the American's WBA welterweight title at the Utilita Arena in Cardiff, Wales.

It will be the first time Price has fought in front of a Welsh crowd since she was an amateur in 2017 and she believes her experience both as an Olympian and international footballer will help her cope with the pressure.

"When I turned over from the amateurs, I wanted to move fast and have been calling for big fights since last year," Price told ESPN. "I don't agree with the opinion it's too fast for me, as long as my team believe in me, that's what counts. I shut all the noise out, the good and the bad.

"I know amateur is different to professional game, but to win an Olympic gold medal is a lot harder than winning a world title in my opinion. There's nothing harder than winning an Olympic gold medal and I believe the likes of Vasiliy Lomachenko, Oleksandr Usyk, they say the same thing. Anyone who has been to the Olympics, and gone through it, I think they would say the same thing."

Price, who went into the Games in Tokyo as a favorite to win gold, believes the experience at the Olympics will help her in her title fight.

"I've always had pressure on me but if anything, I rise to that through my boxing career and football career," Price said. "Captaining Wales under-19 at football and other experiences have put me where I am today.

"It will mean the world for me to fight in Cardiff and I want to create a legacy for Welsh boxing and bring big boxing nights back to Cardiff. I was young when [Hall of Famer] Joe Calzaghe was fighting and what he did for Wales was incredible. I want to follow in Joe's footsteps by creating more history by becoming the first Welsh women's world champion."

McCaskill (12-3-1, 5 KOs), 39, beat Cecilia Braekhus in back-to-back fights in 2020 and 2021 to become undisputed welterweight champion. The Chicago-based boxer is also a unified champion at junior welterweight but in her last fight drew with England's Sandy Ryan, who is now the WBO titleholder. McCaskill suffered decision loses to Katie Taylor and Chantelle Cameron, of England, at junior welterweight in 2017 and 2022 respectively, but she is unbeaten at welterweight and will be making a fifth title defense versus Price.

Price, a southpaw who has sparred with Cameron recently, expects McCaskill to try and draw her into a brawl.

"You see what you get with Jessica, she's rough, tough, tries to rough you up," Price said. "She's a bit of brawler and swings a lot. I don't think her defense is great, she takes quite a lot of shots like she did against Sandy, and I saw the way Chantelle boxed her.

"She's a great fighter, my toughest test and she will ask questions of me at times but I believe I will come out on top. If you're a better boxer, you are going to out-box her. She will try to drag you into a dog fight, but if you have speed and good feet, then I think it will make it very hard for her."

Price used to play football to a good standard for club side Cardiff City and also made two senior international appearances for Wales, with 52 appearances in total for all age groups and senior Wales teams. But Price has no intention of mixing the two sports like middleweight queen Claressa Shields does with boxing and MMA.

"Right now I am just concentrating on boxing, that's my main focus," Price said. "I don't think I will go back to football and I've not played it for a while."