Tony The Tiger Thompson gets a rematch of one of the more respectable title challenges given to Wlad Klitschko from 4 years ago. The bout takes place July 7th at Stade de Suisse in Berne, Switzerland at an approximate elevation of 1800′, creating potential stamina problems for any fighter who may be elevationally challenged. While 1800′ doesn’t represent much elevation by my way of thinking for a trained athlete, I’ve come to find that some folks are more predisposed to weakness at any significant elevation gain, so we shall see what if any factor the elevation plays.
Wlad goes for his 19th title victory against 2 title losses, one of the best all time heavyweight title records, yet still looks for respect outside the European sphere where he currently defends his title. His last defense in the US came in 2008 against the undefeated southpaw, Sultan Ibragimov, a rather tepid technical boxing display resulting in an wide unanimous decision for Wlad.
This will be his 12th straight defense since regaining his championship form with the defeat of IBF titleholder Chris Byrd in 2006. Ironically, it was then WBO titlest Byrd who started Wlad on his title path back in 2000 as well as being the first of his record setting title matches against southpaw fighters, his 7th with the Thompson rematch. Wlad is currently 5-1 with 3 KOs and one KO loss in these lefty matches.
Thompson says that he was hindered in the first fight by a damaged knee that he has since had two surgeries on. Klitschko has been mopping the floor against the best of the heavyweight contenders whereas Thompson has been more inactive against lesser competition. His best win was against fringe contender Chazz Witherspoon, but all 5 wins were by knockout.
And it’s a knockout that Tony Thompson will be looking for since it’s just impossible to ever outbox either of the Klitschko brothers, the most dominant heavyweight boxers by % of rounds won in history as near as I can tell by available scoring records. Thompson will be a few months shy of his 41st birthday though, not a good bet to knockout a champion sporting a 57-3, 50 KO record, the best since Joe Louis was last dominating the division.
However, Wlad is 36 years of age and looked slow and tentative against Jean Marc Mormeck in his last defense, almost not knowing what to do in the first round when Mormeck smartly manuveured into range and also froze in the moment. Perhaps he was giving the former French champion too much respect, and he did take care of business just a few rounds later, but Thompson is a much bigger threat powerwise.
Wlad is by nature a congenitally cautious boxer to the point of maddening his critics into a rabid froth anytime his name comes up in conversation. Even his highlight 2nd round KO of Ray Austin so many moons ago, quintuple lightning strikes of consecutive left hooks came out of the blue after staying well out of range with nothing but jabs to show up to that point.
Cautious to a fault, sure, but the proof is in the pudding, and it’s been a dominant career in spite of painful setbacks during the early years.
Don’t see how Tony Thompson can pull off the trick, but he will be looking for the one perfect shot during the 36 minutes of the bout. They all hone their skills and dream of their moment as any of us might, so that’s as good a reason as any to tune in for the final results.