Hype won’t help Thompson beat Klitschko
By John F. McKenna (McJack): In all probability (Super) WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO and The Ring heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko (57-3, 50 KO’s) will face his mandatory challenger Tony “The Tiger” Thompson (36-2, 24 KO’s) sometime this coming summer. It is probably not a fight that would be “Dr. Steelhammer’s” first choice, but a fight that he must take to avoid losing his International Boxing Federation (IBF) crown. Klitschko at this stage of his career has worked too hard to lose his IBF crown for not fighting his mandatory challenger.
Thompson and Klitschko clashed previously in July 2008. In that fight Thompson took Wladimir into the 11th round before he was finally KO’d. Since being KO’d by Klitschko, Thompson has put together a string of five straight wins against 2nd tier opponents.
Thompson at 6’5” and 245 pounds definitely has the size to be competitive with Wladimir and in fact was one of the few fighters not intimidated by him in their first contest. But by the time the fight takes place Tony will be closing in on 41 years old. And having not faced any top ranked opponents for four years it is likely that Thompson’s skills have diminished since his last encounter with Klitschko.
Klitschko on the other hand has continued to show signs of improvement under the tutelage of trainer Emanuel Steward. Steward recently said that he believes Wladimir is at his peak and will stay there for at least the next three years. The Klitschko brothers have long had the philosophy that every opponent must be taken seriously. Up to this point the Klitschko philosophy has worked extremely well with both brothers dominating the heavyweight division for the better part of a decade.
It would seem at first glance that all Thompson needs to do is make a few minor adjustments to improve on his 2008 performance, but it is not that simple. Wladimir has improved dramatically over the past 3 ½ years. His confidence level is now at an all time high and he will have a psychological edge over Thompson in the rematch because of the previous KO.
Undoubtedly Thompson and his team will come up with a game plan to improve his chances against Wladimir. But I always go back to the famous quote of the legendary heavyweight champion Joe Louis. Louis said “Everybody has a plan until they get hit.”
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