Tonight in Germany, the IBF/IBO/WBO/WBA Heavyweight champion, Wladimir Klitschko, 57-3, 50 KO’s, defends his title against one of the best American fighters in the division, Tony Thompson, 36-2, 24 KO’s, in a rematch. In the first encounter, a nervous Thompson froze under the big lights and would get knocked cold in the 11th round from a booming right hand. Four years have passed and now their paths cross again.
Klitschko has not lost a fight in 8 years. He hasn’t lost many rounds either. He is the biggest puncher in the division and is highly skilled. To beat him, a fighter must either blitz him as Corrie Sanders did in 2003, and land early, or they must be willing to endure the punches and keep coming, getting into the head of Wlad and stopping him later on, as Lamon Brewster and Ross Puritty did. Thompson has grit and proved that he can hang in there, but where is his mind in this fight?
At a recent stare down, it did seem that Thompson was overwhelmed with emotion. He knows what he is up against and it seemed that anxiety may already be getting the better of him. At the weigh in, they stared at each other again and Thompson flipped off the crowd…something totally out of character. What does this mean?
If Thompson is letting his anxiety get the better of him, expect an early night in Germany. If the flipping off of the crowd and emotional stare down are an indication of a different mindset where he will be more aggressive and is angry at the dismissal of his chances by the media, we may be in for a fight. Thompson is capable and could upset Klitschko. The potential is there, but he must be ready early and he must be willing to go through hell and keep coming in order to do it.
In the end, you have to favor Wlad to win by knockout in the middle rounds, but the first round should show us where Thompson’s head is.
The fight will be shown on EPIX.