Even at 2:30 a.m. in Tekirdag, Turkey, long after having out-lasted 2004 Cuban Olympian Odlanier Solis over the course of 12 rounds, heavyweight Tony Thompson had energy to burn during a telephone conversation with RingTV.com on Saturday (Sunday in Turkey.)
"I'm back. Bring it on," said the 6-foot-5 Thompson, winner of a split-decision on a card sponsored by Solis' promoter, Ahmet Oner. "I've made myself a viable commodity in the heavyweight division again."
Thompson (39-4, 26 knockouts), a 42-year-old married father of seven, won by scores of 115-113 and 115-114 on the cards of two judges, while the third scored the fight, 116-112, for Solis.
Nicknamed, "The Tiger," Thompson appears to have revived his career in a crowded chase for the WBC belt, whose organization has mandated that Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola fight for the title vacated by the retirement of Vitali Klitschko. A unanimous decision winner over Arreola in April 2013, Stiverne faces him again on May 10 at a site to be determined.
The winner of Stiverne-Arreola has been mandated to defend against Deontay Wilder, who is coming off last Saturday's 96-second stoppage win over Malik Scott.
In addition, there was a second-mandatory ordered by the WBC between unbeaten fighters Mike Perez and Bryant Jennings, the winner of which will face that between Wilder and the victor of the Stiverne-Arreola matchup.
Thompson said that although Oner expressed interest in working with him in the future, he plans to entertain other opportunities should they present themselves.
"Listen, as soon as you win a fight like this, people are going to come at you. But we've been getting offers pouring in at this moment," said Thompson, who has undergone two separate surgeries to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.
"So I'm just going sit back see if I can take the best offer. There are so many offers it's a shame. So I want to just sit back and wait for the most valuable. I'm not sharing anything right now. I'm not going to talk about it."
Solis (20-2, 13 KOs) represented his fifth straight time fighting on foreign soil for Thompson, who had been outhustled during a unanimous decision loss in August to Bulgaria's unbeaten Kubrat Pulev in his last fight in Germany.
The loss to Pulev ended Thompson's two-bout winning streak, comprised of stoppages of England's previously undefeated David Price in the second and fifth rounds in February and July of last year, respectively. Thompson rose from a second-round knockdown to win the latter.
"The difference between this fight and the one with Pulev is that I had more time to heal," said Thompson. "So that meant that I could better prepare between fights for this one against Solis."
Being that Thompson-Solis was a bout for the WBC's vacant international belt, open scoring was used following the fourth and eighth rounds. Solis led 39-37 on two cards and 40-36 on the third after four rounds. But after eight rounds, Thompson was ahead, 77-75 twice, though Solis still was ahead 78-74, according to a third judge.
This time, however, Thompson's jab was critical to his strategy of outworking Solis.
"I did the same thing against Pulev for the first four or five rounds," said Thompson. "But I was able to apply more pressure against Solis and to hold it longer than I was against Pulev."
The 33-year-old Solis had won three straight since falling by first-round stoppage to then-WBC beltholder Vitali Klitschko. Solis suffered a damaged knee during the loss to Klitschko but is coming off a seventh-round stoppage of Yakup Saglam in July.
Pulev-Thompson's was an IBF eliminator for the right to face RING champion Wladimir Klitschko, against whom Thompson has been stopped in 11th and sixth rounds in Germany and Switzerland, respectively, during failed title challenges in July 2008 and July 2012.
"If I had my choice, of course, I would fight in my own back yard," said Thompson, who had totaled five consecutive knockout victories between the first and second losses to Klitschko.
"But it seems like this is my lot in life as far as boxing, so I have to take what's given, right now. But I'm not afraid to take my team and go on the road in order to kick ass."