On Saturday the 24th August, in Schwerin, Germany Tony “The Tiger” Thompson (38-2, 26 KO’s) will take on IBF #1 contender and current European Heavyweight Champion Kubrat Pulev (17-0, 9 KO’s) for the right to face the winner of the Heavyweight title showdown between Wladimir Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin.
Thompson is the underdog going into this bout, but that was the case both times he faced Liverpool Heavyweight David Price and both times the man from Washington D.C. managed to score shock K.O. wins and ultimately land this fight with Pulev, which will surely be his last chance of landing a title shot.
Thompson is 41 years old now and has had 2 unsuccessful title shots against Wladimir Klitschko, the first of which he was stopped in the 11th round despite landing more shots on Klitschko than any of his other opponents in the whole of his career. The second match was more one sided and Klitschko made considerably lighter work of Thompson despatching him in the 6th and seemingly showing us that Thompson was finished at world level.
Then this year came the fights with Price in which Thompson showed some real heart to come through and get the stoppages and suddenly he is very much back in the title picture.
His opponent, Kubrat Pulev, is a very durable fighter himself though. Born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria he had a reputation as a good amateur before turning to the professional ranks in 2009.
He has since made his way up the pro ladder and last year took the European Heavyweight Title from Alexander Dimitrenko (who David Haye is currently sparring in preparation for his mega fight with Tyson Fury) and Alexander Ustinov who Pulev beat to become the IBF #1 contender. Both men were broken down by the strength of Pulev and both were also stopped in the 11th round in fights that the man nicknamed “The Cobra” was way out in the lead in.
The general feeling is that Kubrat Pulev who at 32 is 9 years younger than Thompson, will just have too much down the stretch and will either stop the American late on, or take a decision win. But can we write Thompson off in this the way many did going into both fights with David Price?
For me the answer is an emphatic “No”. Thompson has certainly got it in his locker to spring another upset here and looking back on his career the only opponent he has lost to over the last 10 years is Klitschko and his only other defeat came in just his 5th fight when he suffered a decision loss in a 4 round fight to Eric Kirkland back in July 2000. Pulev though is strong and will not be bowled over easily and I expect this fight to go the distance.
My head tells me that Pulev will get his hand raised in a close fight but do not be shocked if Thompson pulls it off, he has shocked people before and is definitely capable of doing it again in Germany on Saturday night.
The fight as well as the undercard can be seen live on Boxnation from 19:00 this Saturday 24th August.
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