Kubrat Pulev vs. Tony Thompson – preview and prediction
(Photo credit: Wende) By Ivan Ivanov: This fight is scheduled for Aug. 24 and since it’s a final eliminator for the IBF title, the winner gets a shot at Wladimir Klitschko unless Alexander Povetkin can cause an improbable upset. The fight would have been interesting anyway because we don’t get to see a meaningful heavyweight fight very often.
Let’s look at the facts first: Tony Thompson is 6′ 5″ /196cm, his reach is 81½″/207cm he weighed 259 lbs in his last fight, age 41. Kubrat Pulev is 6′ 4½″/194cm, reach 80″/202cm, weight around 250 lbs, age 32. Pulev is orthodox, Thompson is a southpaw and this will be a factor in the fight.
Thompson has more experience as a pro and he has faced harder opponents, he has been tested and evaluated as a solid contender, a first echelon gatekeeper to the throne. He lost twice to W. Klitschko but he exposed twice David Price who was a decent amateur at least on paper. Pulev has vast amateur experience as a cruiser and heavyweight (heavy/super heavy in amateur money) and has been down only once as an amateur while Price has been knocked down at least five times in his amateur career.
Pulev has not been tested as a pro against a real boxer so far but he has shown a consistent jab that systematically chops down lesser opponents. He has a decent right cross that he uses very cautiously and has not scored a knock down with a power punch so far. He uses the left hook and uppercuts very rarely, so he is not a KO artist. He outlasts his opponents in a war of attrition.
Thompson is a southpaw so he will neutralize Pulev’s jab with ease and he has more variety in his offense – he use hooks and uppercuts along with the straight shots. He is older but appears more athletic and agile than Pulev. Pulev’s defense is superior but he isn’t all that hard to hit, especially by a southpaw, and he doesn’t like it one bit. He is a rugged durable type though and he should be able to smother and shake off Thompson’s best shots.
Pulev’s amateur boxing skills are the basis of his game as a pro and this is what will beat Thompson. Pulev has a very good understanding of range, space in the ring and his angle (offensive and defensive angles are different). He clearly has superior timing skills than Thompson. I believe the range feel and timing Pulev brings will be too much for Tony Thompson.
The hard part will be the southpaw stance that negates the jab by default, and the jab is Pulev’s best weapon. He is not a “one armed” fighter, he will have to turn on the right hand for this fight. The fight is in Germany where Pulev is based, so there no way he’ll lose on points but he should not leave it to the judges if he wants to fight Klitshko anytime soon. Whether he can be a real threat to a Klitschko – I kind of doubt it.