By Keith Idec
Wladimir Klitschko will probably pummel a 39-year-old opponent in his next fight.
It is difficult to expect much more from his March 3 mismatch against Jean-Marc Mormeck, a former cruiserweight champion who was stopped by the very same man Klitschko dominated in his last fight, David Haye, in a championship unification fight before both boxers became heavyweights. Assuming Mormeck succumbs to a bigger, stronger, better fighter, the IBF will try to make Klitschko face a 40-year-old opponent he has already knocked out in his following fight.
Promoter Dan Goossen said the IBF has assured him that Tony Thompson will get another shot at the East Orange, N.J.-based sanctioning organization’s heavyweight title in Thompson’s next fight. Thompson (36-2, 24 KOs) has been declared the IBF’s mandatory heavyweight championship challenger because his Oct. 28 elimination match against friend Eddie Chambers (36-2, 18 KOs), another contender Goossen promotes, was canceled due to Chambers’ back injury.
Representatives for Thompson protested when Klitschko rescheduled an optional defense against Mormeck earlier this month after undergoing two surgeries to remove kidney stones.
Klitschko (56-3, 49 KOs) was supposed to meet Mormeck (36-4, 22 KOs) on Dec. 10 in Dusseldorf, Germany, but the bout was postponed 12 weeks.
“Just recently we tried to oppose an optional defense with Mormeck because, of course, it was cancelled and pushed back to March 3,” Goossen said. “The IBF allowed him to take the optional, with the caveat that the winner has to fight Tony next. It has to happen by July 15.”
Klitschko knocked out Thompson in the 11th round of their July 2008 fight in Hamburg, Germany. It was just the second defeat of Thompson’s professional career, and the Washington, D.C., resident’s first since losing a four-round unanimous decision to then-prospect Eric Kirkland in just Thompson’s fifth pro fight in July 2000.
The 6-foot-5, 250-pound southpaw has stopped each of the five foes he has encountered since Klitschko beat him. Most recently, Thompson stopped Maurice Harris (25-15-2, 11 KOs, 1 NC) in the third round of an IBF elimination match that led Thompson to the Chambers bout.
When asked if Thompson could do better against Klitschko in a rematch, Goossen said, “I believe he can, because if you remember that fight he was competitive for quite a few rounds.”
Thompson was losing by wide margins on all three scorecards before Klitschko knocked him out (98-92, 98-92, 99-91), but Goossen feels as though that learning experience would serve Thompson well if they fight again. Klitschko could, of course, give up the IBF title if he beats Mormeck and decides against accepting a tough-to-sell rematch with Thompson.
“Tony started boxing at 27,” Goossen said. “He’s a young man in an older body, but he doesn’t have a lot of wear and tear. I truly believe that, mentally, it’s going to be the big thing because he’s been there, done that now. He understands what it takes. He understands what he’s got to do. And he’s a big, strong lefty. And you’ve seen him out here with Chazz Witherspoon, and he’s got a lot of pop on that punch. I believe he can beat [Klitschko], and with the [crowd] success they just had in Washington [for the Lamont Peterson-Amir Khan fight], where Tony’s from, that’s where I’d like to go.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.