Just less than three weeks ago, 41-year old Tony Thompson further added to his legitimacy as the best American heavyweight when, for the second time in five months, he stopped British prodigy David Price.
Thompson (38-3, 26 KOs) confirmed to RingTV.com on Thursday he will step in the ring again on Aug. 24, but not in any sort of tune-up. Pending IBF approval, his fight with unbeaten Sauerland Event heavyweight Kubrat Pulev (17-0, 9 KOs) of Bulgaria will be the final eliminator for a shot at Wladimir Klitschko.
“I just found out today that it is for sure,” Thompson told RingTV.com.
For a 13-year veteran in his forties, it is interesting to see him so quickly back in action. One would assume he’d need proper time to recover from his last fight, particularly since Price had him down in the early part of the fight and Thompson did indeed take some punishment.
“I’m feeling good and you don’t turn down a chance to get back to the championship,” said Thompson. “The more I fight, the better I am.”
Thompson has twice previously challenged Klitschko in heavyweight title bids. His July 2008 effort against Wladimir may stand to be the best offering by a challenger in Klitschko’s recent impressive run. In that fight, Thompson gave Klitschko a bit of trouble early before being stopped in the 11th round.
In July of last year, Thompson again got a shot, but this time it looked as though he phoned it in. Klitschko would stop him in the sixth round. So what would make a third try different?
“I’m as healthy as I have been since the Luan [Krasniqi] fight and that means I train better,” Thompson said. “The first time I fought Wlad on one leg, the second time I had no strength, now I am back to being me.”
A lot of people wrote off Thompson after his second failed attempt against Klitschko. The truth remains that those two losses are the only ones he has suffered since dropping a four-round decision in 2000 to Eric Bryant. Thompson has staked a claim to being the best American heavyweight given the recent lack of depth.
“I think a lot of people forget that and don’t give me the credit I deserve in this sport, but that is my fault for losing the two biggest fights of my career,” said an honest Thompson.
“I take pride in being the best I can be and persevering through it all in this game.”
Perhaps most memorable about Thompson’s fantastic recent win over Price was the hilarious post-fight interview he gave after the fact on BoxNation. In the interview, Thompson said he was going to go home and break his wife’s hip, having not had sex with her in awhile.
“She has recovered and is looking forward to celebrating with me again,” said Thompson in regards to his comedic interview.
Mark E. Ortega is a contributing writer to RingTV.com and has been featured in prominent boxing publications RING Magazine and Boxing Monthly. He is a member of the Boxing Writers Assoc. of America and can be reached via e-mail and followed on Twitter.