by David P. Greisman
Tony Thompson’s not done yet.
There were some who counted him out after he got stopped by Wladimir Klitschko a year ago, suffering his second loss to the heavyweight champion. Thompson was 40 at the time, had reached the top twice and had fallen short.
He wasn’t done, though, as he’s showed this year with two wins over British prospect David Price. Thompson scored a technical knockout over Price in February and did it again on July 6.
Now he’s looking toward what’s next.
Thompson, who’s now 41 years old, is 38-3 with 26 knockouts (the third loss came very early in his career). He spoke to BoxingScene.com on July 12, talking about why he decided to keep fighting on post-Klitschko, the wins over David Price and what he wants next, his prediction for the upcoming fight between Tyson Fury and David Haye, and much more.
BoxingScene.com: You had told me before your rematch with Wladimir Klitschko that your career hinged after the fight. Why did you decide to continue fighting on after that bout, and why did you decide to fight David Price the first time?
Thompson: “Well, I just wasn’t satisfied with how my career was coming to a close. Fighting Price was not only a test for Price, it was a test for me to see if I could still compete while I’m at a contender-type of level. I always told people I took the first fight to create an opportunity for myself. I took the second fight to cement that opportunity, and it worked out both times for me.”
BoxingScene.com: Were you surprised that he took the immediate rematch with you?
Thompson: “Not at all. David’s a competitor. Any type of fighter worth his salt wants to get right back in there with the guy that beats him. To David’s credit, he wouldn’t allow for any other fight. He had the opportunity to take not only easier fights, or what’s perceived to be easier fights, but fights worth more money. And all he could think about was fighting me again — to his detriment.”
BoxingScene.com: Did you expect him to come out the way he did in the rematch and put a hurting on you briefly in the second round?
Thompson: “It’s a boxing match, obviously. You better expect to get hit, or you’re in the wrong business. He came out exactly how we thought he would. We had a game plan for two or three different ways we thought he’d come out. He caught me because I got a little reckless. I wanted to get aggressive. I saw that he was trying to box, so I started trying to get really aggressive with him, which was our game plan. And he just caught me with a shot on top of the head coming in.”
BoxingScene.com: How badly were you hurt at that moment, and how long did it take for you to clear your head?
Thompson: “Obviously I was hurt long enough to be down, but I was very clear-headed. My eyes were wide open. I was focused. I watched the referee the whole time. I didn’t spring up from the knockdown because I’ve learned. I’ve been knocked down before. You don’t spring up. You rise up slowly to keep your equilibrium a little bit better.
“When I got up, I was clear-headed, he was even shocked I was able to get up, and he was a little more petrified of coming forward to try to finish me. If that was me that knocked him down, I would’ve went and tried to close.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you feel you did to try to take control of the fight back over?
Thompson: “I just was aggressive. I just knew if I pressured him, he’s not used to being the rabbit. He’s used to being the guy chasing the rabbit. He’s not used to guys coming forward to him, pushing him around, being aggressive toward him, being physical toward him, all the things that we worked on. And we knew that he wasn’t going to be able to handle that. He tried to be a Lennox Lewis, but Lennox Lewis was an all-time great. He’s not a Lennox Lewis.”
BoxingScene.com: Did you think coming into this fight, given what happened in the first fight, that he has a weak chin?
Thompson: “No, I don’t think he has a weak chin. It’s the Heavyweight division. Anybody can knock anybody out in the heavyweight division. He knocked me down. He didn’t even hit me in the chin. And I don’t consider myself a weak-chinned guy. I was able to rise and continue, so I don’t think it’s a weak-chin situation. I just think it was a situation where we just took his heart, and we took his mind, and he just couldn’t recover.”
BoxingScene.com: It seemed from my eyes that he just had no stamina. Did you sense the same thing, and if so, when did you see him start to get tired?
Thompson: “It wasn’t the fact that he had no stamina. We took his stamina. We did that. He was in great shape. I don’t want anyone to give him any excuses about him not being in great shape. He was in great shape. It was our job to destroy his shape. And that’s what we did. I went to his body. I pressured him. I didn’t give him time to breathe. I didn’t give him time to catch his breath. I made it a fast-paced fight, which he wasn’t used to.
“I saw him, he was anxious through the whole process, from the press conferences to the weigh-in. We’d seen how anxious he was, so we knew he was burning energy. And we wanted to play on that.”
BoxingScene.com: When did you know you had him? It looked like you were a shark smelling blood in the water.
Thompson: “I got knocked down, and I knew it was time to go to work. The third round, I came out and dominated. I knew I’d hit him with some good shots in the third round. The fourth round, I wanted to capitalize on those good shots, so I came back with more body shots. And I knew he was just about done. The fifth round — I had told people before the fight that he wouldn’t make it out of the fifth round — so I wanted to make sure my prophesy was true. So I just went out there to close the show.”
BoxingScene.com: Do you feel his career is done, or do you see something with him that he’ll be able to bounce back, but just not against you?
Thompson: “I don’t think his career is done. He’s 30 years old. He has a lot more maturing he can do in the ring. He didn’t lose to a bum. This is what everybody fails to realize: I’ve only lost to Wladimir Klitschko, the best in the world. So David doesn’t need to hang his head on this loss, because I’m one of the best in the world.
“As a matter of fact, I think he’s ahead of guys like Tyson Fury and other guys like that who are not fighting anybody. He fought a real person. And now he’s going to be better for it down the road, just not fighting me. But down the road, that experience is going to show for him.”
BoxingScene.com: You brought up Fury just now. You mentioned Tyson Fury after your win. He’s got a fight coming up with David Haye. How do you think that fight goes?
Thompson: “I’m really mad at David Haye, because David Haye is going to get to expose the sideshow that is Tyson Fury. I’m upset with David Haye right now because I wanted to do that. I just think David is going to destroy Tyson, I really do. Tyson’s not even a fighter or a boxer, man, he’s a sideshow. He’s just a big 6’9” heavy bag with arms.”
BoxingScene.com: So if you don’t get to face Fury, then, what do you want next for yourself? When do you want to be back in the ring, and against whom?
Thompson: “I want to be back in the ring in the next two or three months. I want to fight a guy who’s ranked No. 1. Anybody who’s ranked No. 1, we can fight as an eliminator. If not, I’d love to get a fight against Vitali before he retires. He’s been fighting these short guys, guys he knows don’t have no chance of competing against him. I’d love to fight a guy like Vitali before he retires.
“My ultimate goal is to get back to Wladimir. I know I can’t call out Wlad. He’s dominated me twice, so I have to do something special to make a third fight happen, and beating his brother would be special.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you think are the differences between them in the ring?
Thompson: “Just about two inches. They’re both going to be in great shape. They’re both helluva competitors. They’re both strong, powerful guys. Vitali, obviously is a little older. Wlad’s a little stronger, probably has a little more punching power. I think there’s very small differences, but they’re both great.”
BoxingScene.com: Would your team be able to leverage these wins and get you on HBO against someone like a Bryant Jennings or a Bermane Stiverne, and would you be interested in facing either of them?
Thompson: “If they get me towards another title shot. But having said that, those guys like that, they would never fight me. They know they’re young and not ready, especially after what I showed against Price. Bryant Jennings, his folks would be crazy to fight me, and they know it. They would never want to take a fight like that.”
BoxingScene.com: Your career’s not yet done, as you showed. But when you do decide to hang up the gloves, how do you think American boxing is right now?
Thompson: “I don’t think it’s as glum as people think. They got some guys out there, Deontay Wilder, who I think is going to be a champion one day. We got some younger guys coming up — we even got a guy in my gym by the name of Danny. I think he’s really ready to explode on the scene. So I don’t think it’s as dire as people make it out to be.” [Note: Thompson didn’t know Danny’s last name]
BoxingScene.com: Your post-fight interview with the British broadcaster really has taken on a life of its own. Was that preplanned at all, or just something that came out in the moment?
Thompson: “That’s usually what comes out of my mouth like on a daily basis. I’m a fun loving type of guy. I like to keep it loose. You know, I’ve always been like that. I don’t have to plan anything because that stuff comes naturally. I’m a funny guy — I like to think so, anyway. So it was just something that was going on at the moment. People are just starting to realize that I have a great personality when they put a mike in my face. I haven’t changed anything. I’ve always been like that.”
BoxingScene.com: Did you hear from people who saw that on TV or saw it online?
Thompson: “Most definitely. They ask me if I’m still looking for donations for the wheelchair fund. I tell them that Mrs. Thompson’s hip is doing well at this moment. I did a lot of massage techniques and acupuncture. She’s fine.”
BoxingScene.com: What else do you want people to know?
Thompson: “I’m doing well. My health is better. I’m able to train. I’m never going to have a Wladimir Klitschko body or even a David Price or David Haye body. I’m going to come out with the late 1990’s Larry Holmes body, but I’m going to be effective. I’m back.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter @fightingwords2 or send questions/comments via email at [email protected]