By Per Ake Persson & Alexey Sukachev
Schwerin, Germany - In an IBF final eliminator, Tony Thompson (38-4, 26KOs) was coming off back to back knockout victories over highly regarded David Price, but his momentum wasn't enought to overcome the talented up and comer Kubrat Pulev (18-0, 9KOs). The scores were 116-112, 118-110 and 117-111 for Pulev. The Bulgarian heavyweight is now in line for the winner of October's title fight between Wladimir Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin.
IBF #4 Thompson was twice unsuccessful in his world title challenges against unified Ukrainian super champion Wladimir Klitschko, being knocked out in 2008 and in 2012. However, he got back in the mix even stronger following two back-to back wins over previously undefeated David Price, the latter taking place only a month and a half ago. In both of these bouts, Thompson started slowly to be rocked and even floored but came back very strong after that, stopping the hulking Brit twice in a row. This was not the case this time.
Thompson indeed started slowly and on the devensive, trying to preserve as much energy as he could. The difference was in Pulev's approach, who was reasonably cautious yet landed blows when needed. Even a slower version of Thompson was a bit better in the first but Pulev's right hands did their share of damage in the second, while the third stanza was even.
In round four Pulev has finally adjusted to his opponent and began to execute his fight plan. He wasn't trying to land one big punch but a combination of them, when Thompson was negative at the ropes. With this approach in full mode, Pulev was ahead in the next three rounds, mixing his left jabs with powerful right hands to rock the American fighter time and again. Thompson was playing possum, fired little back and was taking fire behind his tight guard. The bout started to turn into a grudge affair in the fifth, as both boxers landed some fouls and continued to fight well after the bell (it wasn't the first case though, as both contestants were warned for dirty tricks as early as in round three by referee Randy Neumann).
In the seventh, Thompson went forward, trying to impose his will and to engage Pulev in a mauling contest. He had some success, forcing Pulev to work on the inside, landing some clean shots and inducing a number of clinches, which he had taken better of. Much holding and some wrestling as well at this point. Thompson, 41, continued to press forward in the eighth but Pulev was ready for whatever the American fighter brought to him. Pulev moved smartly outside, popping his annoying jab to keep Thompson at bay. His right hands also troubled the American. Rounds ten and eleven were also in Pulev's favour (the Tiger was down to the canvas during a big exchange, which wasn't ruled a knockdown by Neumann), and he almost put Thompson down with a huge one-two combo early into the final round.
BoxingScene saw the fight 118-111 - for the Cobra, who entered the bout as the IBF #1, WBO #4 and WBC #9 rated fighter. In Thompson, the Bulgarian enjoyed his biggest career win, and he also has victories over Michael Sprott, Alexander Dimitrenko and Alexander Ustinov (all by way of stoppage) in 2012.
Tyrone Zeuge, 9-0, outscored tough Brit Nathan King, 13-20, over eight and won a wide unanimous decision. It was scored 79-73 twice and 78-74. Zeuge boxed on the outside moving well scoring with right hand counters as King kept coming. Zeuge might face Italian veteran Lorenzo Di Giacomo next. Both men came in just over the supermiddle limit.
Once a promising light heavyweight prospect Dustin Dirks (27-1-1, 20 KOs), who had been on a rapid ascent just half a year ago, suffered the second setback in a row. Dirks, just 24, managed to get just a draw against Tomas Adamek (20-9-2, 7 KOs). That is not the world-known Polish heavyweight but his far less regarded Czech namesake. The fight was very even in every round of a scheduled eight-rounder, and Dirks didn't look superior to his opponent. He was credited with a flash knockdown in round three. Adamek was fighting with a badly cut right eye throughout the majority of rounds. Dirks looked very ordinary if compared with his own self two or three years ago.
In the show opener of Sauerland´s big show at the Kongress - und Sporthalle undefeated lightheavy Enrico Koelling, 9-0, showed his class in stopping Austrian Haris Causevic, 8-1, in three one-sided rounds. The Austrian, bleeding badly from the nose, soaked up a bad beating and referee Oliver Brien told Causevic and his corner after the second the fight would be stopped if Haris didn´t do better - he didn´t and it was stopped 19 seconds into third. It was scheduled for eight.