By Jake Donovan
Top ten contender Tony Thompson remains in the thick of things in the heavyweight division after breezing through a stoppage of Owen Beck in a battle of former title challengers, Friday night at the New Daisy Theatre in Memphis, Tennessee.
Thompson scored a first round knockdown and controlled every second of the fight, which lasted until Beck’s corner literally thew in the towel, prompting referee Randy Phillips to halt matters at 2:50 into the fourth round of their ESPN2 Friday Night Fights-televised main event.
The bout was never competitive, which was hardly a surprise. What was a sad shocker was the Tennessee Athletic Commission granting Beck, now 33 but twice as old in boxing years, a license after the Nashville-based Jamaican was rejected by several other commissions due to issues with his eyes.
Even when he had any semblance of a prime, Beck was never anything more than a fringe contender at best. Well past his best, he showed up for this fight grossly out of shape and had absolutely nothing on his punches.
Conversely, Thompson –a well-preserved 38 years young and expertly guided by top trainer Barry Hunter – fought like a guy who still has more to offer the sport, taking the fight to Beck from the outset.
A chopping right hand placed behind Beck’s ear resulted in the bout’s lone knockdown, late in the first round. Beck fell flat on his back, but managed to beat the count and make it out of the round.
However, he spent the rest of the fight on wobbly legs, bouncing off of the ropes and limited to trying his hardest to defend his incoming. His only response to Thompson’s jab and straight left were looping arm punches that had no impact whatsoever, allowing his taller foe to take his time and slowly but surely pick him apart.
After being stunned in the second and third rounds, Beck was basically a dead man walking in the fourth, a round in which ringside commentators Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas predicted would be the end of the fight. Their words were proven prophetic, as Thompson was surgical in his attack, shooting everything up the middle and forcing Beck to spend nearly the entire round fighting off of the ropes.
The final sequence saw Thompson unload with 1-2’s through Beck’s loose guard, landing at will before the white towel came flying over the top rope to inform the ref that there was no longer a reason to allow the fight to continue.
Thompson has now won three straight – all by knockout – since his title-fight stoppage loss to Wladimir Klitschko nearly two years ago. The heavyweight contender – who took up the sport just a decade ago – improves to 34-2 (22KO) overall, with the current goal to find one or two more fights that will put him back in the title picture.
Heading in the opposite direction, Beck needs to think long and hard about what he expects from the sport and what role he’s willing to play if he continues to fight. He falls to 29-5 (20KO), suffering his second knockout loss of 2010, and lacking a win over a fighter with a winning record in more than four years.
The televised co-feature saw “Hammerin’” Hank Lundy score three knockdowns, but still managed to make things harder than necessary in earning a ten-round unanimous decision over Tyrese Hendrix in a battle of unbeaten lightweights.
Scores were 98-90, 99-88 and 100-88.
Lundy appeared to be well on his way to a short night’s work, scoring two knockdowns in the first minute of the fight on the strength of straight left hands. The first knockdown – 20 seconds in – saw both fighters touch the canvas, only for referee Randy Phillips to miss the call and rule in Lundy’s favor.
Somehow, Hendrix managed to survive the round, which turned out to be bad news for Lundy, despite scoring the win and remaining unbeaten. The Philly native was in full control whenever he properly utilized his skill set – working behind the jab and targeting the body. The problem was not applying those skills often enough.
The lack of effective aggression on the part of Lundy allowed Hendrix to hang around a lot longer than should’ve been the case, at times scoring with his straight left.
Lundy rediscovered his killer instinct in the sixth, turning up the heat and sending Hendrix reeling after landing a flush right hand to the chin. An ensuing volley resulted in the third knockdown of the fight, although Hendrix not only survived but punched his way back into the fight within the very same round.
The final four rounds saw plenty of toe-to-toe exchanges, which pleased the corner of Hendrix but resulted in Lundy receiving a tongue lashing from his handlers. Hendrix enjoyed his best round of the fight in the ninth, repeatedly scoring with his left and limiting Lundy to one punch at a time.
Neither fighter seemed convinced a knockout would come in the final round. It was a particularly baffling strategy on the part of Hendrix, who managed to hurt Lundy in the previous round but instead opted to last the distance rather than go for the win.
Lundy now moves to 18-0-1 (10KO). Hendrix loses for the first time as a pro despite the game effort, dipping to 18-1-1 (7KO).
The televised swing bout saw late bloomer Lanard Lane box early and punch with mean intentions late en route to a lopsided six-round decision over badly faded former title challenger John Brown in their junior welterweight bout.
Scores were 60-54 across the board, all in favor of Lane. The 27-year old Philly prospect advances to 12-0 (7KO) with his second win of 2010, with both bouts appearing on ESPN2.
A decade removed from his pair of super featherweight title fights with Stevie Forbes, the 41-year old Brown falls to 24-18-2 (11KO), having only won just once in the past eight years.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com and an award-winning member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Contact Jake at [email protected].