By Keith Idec
Tony Thompson thinks things will be different in the ring Saturday night than what transpired four years ago, when Wladimir Klitschko knocked him out in the 11th round of their heavyweight title fight in Hamburg, Germany.
That remains to be seen, but Thompson has made sure that the week leading up to his second shot at Klitschko is different from the first time he traveled to Europe to challenge him in July 2008.
Thompson arrived in Germany less than a week before his first fight against Ukraine’s Klitschko. He came to Berne, Switzerland, where their IBF-mandated rematch will take place later night, 10 days in advance to get adjusted to a six-hour time difference following an eight-hour flight.
The 40-year-old Thompson anticipates the additional acclimation time will help him feel as fresh as possible when he gets in the ring for their 12-round championship match at Stade de Suisse (EPIX; 4:30 p.m. EDT/1:30 p.m. PDT).
“Well, the advantage is you’ve got to get [over] that jetlag,” Thompson said of his reasoning for arriving earlier. “Jetlag is a real thing, you know, which is why the Klitschkos bring you over six days before. They know what they’re doing. They’re very smart, astute people. You can’t blame them for that. It’s up to you and your team to combat that intelligence with your own intelligence.”
The Klitschkos run their own promotional company, K2 Promotions, thus they’re responsible for flying opponents and their teams to sites for their fights. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Thompson (36-2, 24 KOs) learned almost as much outside the ring from his first fight against the 6-6, 245-pound Klitschko (57-3, 50 KOs) as the Washington, D.C., resident absorbed inside it.
“My team, we learned from experience,” said Thompson, a southpaw who has served as a sparring partner for both Wladimir Klitschko and his older brother, Vitali Klitschko. “We know that wasn’t enough time [in Germany]. We know jetlag is still on, you know? So we came over a little bit early to get over the initial parts of the jetlag. And then [this] week we started rebuilding the body back up now that we’re used to it.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.