Tony Thompson executed one of the biggest upsets inside a British ring in recent memory when he silenced Liverpoolís Echo Arena and levelled David Price inside two rounds last February.
And the 41 year old ĎTigerí has landed back in Blighty in ominously rude health ahead of Saturdayís Ďcanít missí rematch at the same venue, live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546).† Join at www.boxnation.com
A former two-time world title challenger who has lost just three times in 40 pro gigs, the 6ft 5in southpaw was threatening to break Scouse hearts again this weekend, when boxing writer Glynn Evans spoke with him this morning.
What can you tell us about your early life growing up on the mean streets of Washington DC? Were you a scrapper as a child and young adult?
I had in very hard, man. My parents werenít always there and I had to move around a lot but thankfully I made it through.
I didnít so much like to fight but I sure as hell hated getting beat up! I didnít have an over abundance (of street fights). I was always pretty big for my age and I was pretty good at defusing a lot of potentially volatile situations.
At 27, you were a late starter to the fight game. What other sports did you play beforehand?
To be truthful, I didnít. I played in little basketball in the neighbourhood to stay in shape but I wasnít really involved in any sports at school because, regrettably, I didnít turn up to school as often as I shouldíve.
What prompted you to finally become involved in boxing?
Riddick Bowe. I saw him working out in Washington and it dawned on me that I was physically bigger than the champ!
It had always been my dream to be a police officer but unfortunately that idea got smashed one day when I was arrested for fighting with the police! Iíd always thought of myself as a pretty decent (street) fighter. At the time I already had three kids and needed to do something to take care of them.
Itís true I started late but I always had the work ethic to get better very quickly. I also had the right coach, a fantastic guy called Tom Browner. We were made for each other but sadly he passed away a few years back.
With negligible amateur experience, the big promoters werenít barging down any doors to sign you when you joined the pros at 28. You were forced to come through the ranks the hard route, fighting on small local shows.
Thatís right. I never had it easy but no regrets. It shaped me into the man and the fighter that I am today.
Several fighters from the newer generation, both in Europe and the US, have it way too easy. They get ahead of themselves and start believing that theyíre better than they actually are. Theyíre coddled into title fights before theyíre truly ready. They havenít met the level of competition to properly prepare them and they get whupped.
In my time, you had to fight your way to the top. I knew I must be good because I fought a lot of good guys, fringe contenders like Yanqui Diaz, Vaughn Bean, Dominick Guinn, Timur Ibragimov, Luan Krasniqi... who were all supposed to beat me but couldnít.
Twice youíve challenged Wladimir Klitschko for major versions of the world heavyweight title but both ended in stoppage defeat. How does he rate?
Wladimir is truly one of the all-time greats who doesnít get the credit that his dominance merits. People put him down due to the supposed inferior competition heís beaten but thatís unfair. Heís ruled with an iron fist for a long time and beaten Ďem all.
Wladimirís incredibly smart and intelligent in the ring. Heís exceptionally fit and takes incredible care of his body and also - something which is too often overlooked because of his size and power - heís a very talented athlete; very quick and co-ordinated. Itís the combination of all those attributes that determines him as a truly great champion.
With two good legs, Iíve no doubt that I shouldíve beat him when we fought in Hamburg back in í08. I hit him more than anybody else ever has. Normally, Iím able to get out the way myself but because of the knee, I tired in the later rounds.
Now Iím getting my health back, I look forward to doing it a third time further down the line.
After two failed efforts why are you confident that you could still beat him?
Iíve already showed the way to defeat him; stay busy and hit him with a lot of punches but because I was carrying a knee injury that Iíve had three surgeries on I was unable to transfer full power into my punches.
America craves a new heavyweight star and, in addition to David Price, England has several promising contenders emerging. How do you assess them?
In the US thereís really only Deontay Wilder and Seth Mitchell. You have to give Wilder a slight edge. Heís so physically imposing and has such power in that big right hand.
Over here, I really like (Dereck) Chisora. Heís all heart, comes to fight, leaves everything in the ring. Heís really good for the fans. Iím also an admirer of David Haye. Heís very mobile and athletic yet deceptively strong and powerful for a comparatively small heavyweight.
But that Tyson Fury is a complete f****** joke, man; a sideshow. I donít believe heís serious about the sport. He just wants to see how far it can raise his profile before trying to branch off into other things.
Entering the first fight with David Price, you didnít seem in the greatest shape physically, scaling a career heaviest 18st 10lbs. Were you aware of Price? Did you take him lightly?
Regardless of how I might have looked, trust me, I was still in great shape. People should remember Iím 41 and certain things catch up with you. I really had been sick at the time but nobody believed me.
I was certainly aware of David Price. Iím a big fan of boxing and especially the heavyweight division so I knew plenty about him. I was very confident but certainly didnít take him lightly. I just looked forward to the challenge.
What was your assessment of Price during the short time you were in the ring together?
David was everything that I anticipated heíd be; big, strong, fast and powerful. However, he was not knowledgeable and all the quick victories had given him a false sense of his worth at that point in time.
Was the finishing blow pre-meditated or instinctive?
Oh, it was definitely something that weíd worked on the whole camp, something we were still planning in the dressing room immediately before the fight.
Youíve been knocked out yourself twice by Wlad Klitschko. How did it affect you psychologically when you returned to the ring? Apprehensive?
No, not at all. If anything I think that it made me more aggressive, eager to land on the other guy and put him away before he could do any serious damage to me. (Between the two Klitschko fights Tony scored five successive stoppage wins).
Iím not sure if David will react similarly because I donít know his temperament. Weíll find out on Saturday night.
What have you been up to in the interim? How was your upset victory received back in the States?
My win was most definitely well received. Most were very happy to see me back on track.
Other than that, Iíve just been being a father to all my kids, plus working hard on getting my body and health right. Wait till you see my body at the weigh-in. Everyone is going to be shocked.
What type of fight do you envisage on Saturday night and why are you confident that you can manufacture a repeat upset?
Itíll be another war but itíll probably last a little longer. I see another great fight for the fans but Iím always confident in my ability to be victorious in every fight Iíve entered.
David lacks knowledge and canít have changed much in four months. Iíve been the complete package for a long time.
He still has many weaknesses and it might be a different one which I choose to expose on Saturday night.
Thereafter? Wladimir III?
I doubt itíll be Wladimir after heís already destroyed me twice but perhaps Vitali or (Alex) Povetkin whoís been nursing the WBA belt for a long while without doing a whole lot. Iíd certainly fancy either of those. Victory might then entice Wlad again. Tags: David Price , Tyson Fury , Tony Thompson , Price-Thompson , Price vs Thompson