By Ognian Georgiev “Bulgaria Today” daily newspaper
Tony “The Tiger” Thompson (38-3, 26 KOs) is more then ready to rumble. Twice a world heavyweight title challenger, the veteran will try once again to grab the most prestigious trophy in professional boxing. But he must earn the right to step in for the third time against Wladimir Klitschko. He’s got a very hungry opponent – European heavyweight champion and IBF #1 rated Kubrat “The Cobra” Pulev (17-0, 9 KOs). They will meet in Schwerin (Germany) on August 24 in a final IBF eliminator. The winner will receive a chance to fight with the younger of Klitschko brothers.
The fight was rumored to happen throughout July after IBF #3 Brayant Jennings refused to step in against Pulev. The Bulgarian’s team and Thompson, who is managed by himself, kept in secret about the negotiations until the very last minute before the fight was officially on.
“We were in contact (with Pulev’s team) almost immediately after the Price fight,” said Thompson. “We were just waiting for IBF to make the fight mandatory (eliminator). We were interested in just that kind of fight and we’re pretty much still in a shape after the Price fight. When we got the word that the Pulev fight will be on, we’ve just come back to train.”
Thompson has studied very carefully the best Bulgarian professional fighter’s style and knows his qualities.
“Very strong fighter, very fast and very active for a heavyweight,” “The Tiger” states. “I think it will be a very tough and very entertaining fight for the fans.”
The 41-year-old veteran plans very simple tactics against Pulev.
“You know my style – ugly and effective,” summarized Thompson.
British boxing fans knows very well that it ain’t just trash talk after the two kayos against David Price.
“It wasn’t a surprise for us,” Thompson remembers about his last two fights. “We knew that Daivd Price is not on our level. We had a job to do. We went out there and we did the job. It’s the same thing with Kubrat Pulev. Everyone is thinking that Pulev is gonna walk through me, but we took the fight because we are confident we can do it.”
A lot of top heavyweights turned down a fight against Pulev. Tomasz Adamek, Tyson Fury and Brayant Jennings refused to step in for a different reasons. In the past it was almost the same situation with Tony Thompson.
“First, you got to offer something for the risk of fighting Pulev or Thompson,” says the American heavyweight. “I think the reason why we are fighting each other is that the risk is worth the reward. And the reward is the chance to fight for the IBF title. The guys who avoided Pulev, probably would take the shot with him if the reward was a mandatory shot. Well, I can’t speak what were the negotiations with those guys. I am just trying to handle my business. We got the fight, we are happy with the fight and we gonna handle our business.”
During the negotiations between Pulev and Jennings, Hall of fame promoter Russell Peltz said that he is afraid letting his young talent to fight in Germany, because of the strange local decisions.
“I am never scared about the decisions, because I do not come over to fight for a decision,” Thompson stated about the judges in Germany. “I’m coming over there to knock that guy out. I think, if I don’t knocked him out it’s all in the judges hands and it is what it is. But I will beat him so bad, that they will never give him a decision. If they want this fight to finish with a decision, they called the wrong man.”
“The Tiger” felt twice the world heavyweight dominance of Wladimir Klitschko by his own head and body. Seems that the pain is the fastest road to respect.
“He’s got (Wladimir Klitschko) the gift of been big, strong, fast,” acknowledge Thompson. “He is very smart fighter, very experienced in a championship level fights. He is very disciplined and I think they do not give him enough credit for the good traits he has.”
What about a third fight with Ukrainian champion? And how Tony Thompson sees his chances in such bout?
“Anybody can be beaten,” commented Thompson. “Any given day Wladimir may lose and he knows that. That’s what makes him special. He knows that he can be beaten and he prepares very well. He doesn’t take no one lightly. He is very ready in every fight and is very knowledgeable of the guy he is fighting.”
Speaking of world titles matches Tony Thompson has his own version why the Americans have lost the battle against Europeans for the heavyweight championships in the last couple of years.
“Boxing is world sport,” stated “The Tiger.” “The world has caught up to the United States. It’s not USA world championships, it’s World championships. The champ can come from everywhere and it starts to show up. It’s the same with basketball. People slowly are starting to catch up to United states basketball. In boxing the guys outside USA are doing a lot better job. They train their guys, who are coming over to United states. They have a whole lot of people to choose from different countries.”
Now 41, Tony Thompson decided to become a friend with boxing in late age of 27.
“I wasn’t doing too much of anything (before putting on the boxing gloves). I started late, because I never wanted to be a fighter, so when I started it took all from me,”, “The Tiger” adds.
The training on such high level is tough, but what about playing with his 7 kids at once?
“It’s always a tougher job to be a parent with a bunch of kids,” smiles Thompson. “I will never let some of my kids become boxers. Hell no! Boxing is a tough sport. Thankfully I am giving my kids a greater chance to be something else besides boxing. I am happy about that.”
Well, we can’t forget to ask about Mrs Thompson. After the second David Price fight, Tony was so happy that promised when he came back home, he would break his wife’s hip, because he ain’t had sex for a while.
“We just celebrated like couples do,” Thompson said to calm down all kind of worries about his Mrs. “We’ve been married for a long time. We love each other always.”