by David P. Greisman
Tony Thompson will be four years older for his rematch with Wladimir Klitschko than he was when they first fought. But he says he also will be in better shape, better able to avenge the 11th-round knockout loss he suffered to Klitschko in July 2008.
BoxingScene.com caught up with Thompson in Atlantic City, where the 40-year-old heavyweight with a record of 36-2 (24 knockouts) spoke about the cancellation of his fight with Eddie Chambers and his coming rematch with the heavyweight champion.
BoxingScene.com: I know you weren’t happy when Eddie Chambers dropped out of his bout with you in October, but it looks like that’s worked out in your favor, with you now being named mandatory challenger to Wladimir Klitschko.
Thompson: “Definitely. Eddie’s a buddy. I thought it’d have been great for boxing to have two high-level American heavyweights clash. That didn’t happen. But now I’m on my way back to Wladimir Klitschko, where I wanted to be.”
BoxingScene.com: What are you being told about when that Klitschko fight might be?
Thompson: “Well, the IBF saw fit to give Wladimir an extension, which is okay, because he’s been a great champion. He’s never had any problems with doing his mandatories. After he’s finished with [Jean Marc] Mormeck in March, I think we’re probably going to be on for like July.”
BoxingScene.com: So you don’t mind waiting because he’s been good with his mandatory defenses.
Thompson: “Well, I mind waiting. But it was a fair decision. I might not like it, but in the end it was a fair decision. I have to abide by what the IBF said. But, no, I don’t wanna wait. I want to get back at him. I want to kill him.”
BoxingScene.com: And you see him showing up in one piece. You don’t see Mormeck giving him any trouble.
Thompson: “No. Not at all. I never want to discount a guy, but this was always just a break-type of fight for Wladimir. He’s been fighting the best heavyweights in the world that’ve been in front of him. This is more like a break for him.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you think happened in your first fight with Wladimir?
Thompson: “I know what happened. I underestimated the type of shape you need to be in to fight a heavyweight champion like Wladimir. Obviously I was injured. I didn’t know I had a torn meniscus. I tried to work through it. That’s not what you do against the heavyweight champion of the world. Now I’m healthy. I know what it takes to get in shape. I know what he can do, but I know what I can do. And I’m looking to face him when I’m at my 100 percent best.”
BoxingScene.com: By better shape, aside from the injury, what do you mean?
Thompson: “Just being able to train to my fullest. I was never able to train to my fullest in a camp. I wasn’t able to put the roadwork and the conditioning work needed to go 12. I went 11 rounds with him, but it wasn’t 11 hard rounds like I need to do to win the fight. Now I’m in great condition. I can go 12 tough rounds and press the fight and probably stop him.”
BoxingScene.com: Strategically, are there any differences for the rematch?
Thompson: “Well, only because, like I said, I wasn’t in good condition. Just being able to put my strategy in play for 12 rounds, that’s the only thing. If I’m in good condition, then my strategy works, I think.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter at twitter.com/fightingwords2 or on Facebook at facebook.com/fightingwordsboxing, or send questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.orgTags: Wladimir Klitschko , Tony Thompson