Wladimir, I realize your goal is to become the universally recognized heavyweight champion of the world, however, in order to hang onto those straps you hold so proudly, you obviously realize the mandatory challengers for these belts (IBF/IBO/WBO x 2) must be obliged a crack at you.
This brings me to the WBO#1 challenger, Tony Thompson.
Thompson is coming off of big KO win over the tough, but perhaps a bit chin-dented Luan Krasniqui, in Germany no less.
Thompson was unfazed by the pro-Krasniqui crowd, and pounded their man out in 6 rounds. He is a calm, and sometimes, over tentative 6’5 fighter, who also happens to be a southpaw (a la Corey Sanders, but less intense early).
He throws a textbook jab, meaningful combinations, and slams home hard body shots.
With his size and reach, he’ll be able to touch you, if, and when he commits, your over-criticized chin could be tested. He will come to fight, because he has everything to gain, with nothing to lose, and will be in the best shape of his 31-1-20 KO career, although in his past performances he’s looked a little soft around the middle.
But you don’t throw body punches anyway Wlad.
Why not? If you had a fighter in front of you that was ripe for the taking, a well-placed body shot, with your power, could bring the fight to a close.
Look, this might be a little touchy, but it’s your psychology as a boxer I wonder about.
1 Are you perhaps thinking too much in the ring, content to box cautiously, using beautiful footwork in the center of the ring, an educated, telephone pole-like jab and straight right hand?
It’s worked thus far for you, so why would you fix what isn’t broken?
How can anyone criticize your utter dominance over an entire division?
I’ll take a stab.
What happened to your perfect left-hook-off the jab, right hook, and brutal, Reaper’s scythe like left hook in general?
What about cutting off the ring effectively?
And for King Kong’s sake, how’s about an early night– via vicious KO?
You’ve never been a body puncher as I’ve already mentioned, and I realize being 6’6 has something to do with it, as well as your initial stand-up Euro style taught to you in the amateurs, and employed throughout the beginning of your early pro career, but as you, and so many other fighters have said before…
‘There’s always room to improve.’
So take your words to heart!
As good as you are, styles get figured out…(a la Mike Tyson, Roy Jones, etc.).
It’s up to you to be as adaptable as can be in times of duress, when your educated boxing skills alone aren’t enough, and heart comes into play.
Which brings me to THE $1,000,000,000 question:
2 Is it perhaps, you’re afraid to trade blow for blow if it comes down to it, because of your previous losses (all by TKO)? Perhaps it’s a little of both.
If the weight of these losses still haunt you, let me remind you:
I’ve seen all of your losses, and you’ve never been KO’d!
Even the great Lennox Lewis was counted out in the first Hasim Rahman fight. You’ve never been counted out that way before.
Each loss, minus the Corey Sanders 2Rd. 5 knockdown TKO debacle, was because your energy sapped, and you lost, again by TKO.
And even the dreadful Sanders fight was stopped by the 3 knock down rule. Another TKO.
No ‘single punch’ was your undoing; so don’t underestimate your WILL.
The art of boxing is to hit, not get hit, and to be in position to throw a punch at all times. That’s where your head is at, and I figure it’s the choice of strategy you’ll employ in each fight, as you damn well should.
But just a bit of armchair advice when you fight Tony Thompson:
Let the right hand fly! I wouldn’t be too tentative early, seeing that Thompson’s not likely to attempt a blitzkrieg tactic on you, so break him down mentally with your superior hand speed and foot work immediately.
Thompson has a good beard it seems, with subtle, evasive head movement, that compliments his better than average defense, and deceptively quick hands.
The last thing you need is yet another upset loss, only to freeze you out of the picture through boxing politics, possibly destroying your life-long quest, and possibly, your career.
However the best news for you Wlad- is that as a boxer, you’ve come into your own, THIS IS YOUR TIME, and Thompson will stand directly in front of you. He’ll let you initiate, and look to counter, probably with his right jab. He’ll be a big target, a la Ray Austin, but with better all around boxing skills. Your offense is your best defense, so when Thompson shells-up defensively, make him pay dearly every time.
It’ll force Tony out of his game plan, & he’d have to fight back under heavy pressure, and risk leaving himself open.
May I suggest a missile-like straight right, followed half a second later with a picture perfect left hook? Or a double left hook? In other words, throw in combination, and let the punches flow like liquid— calm, natural, and with conviction.
And I beg you, DO NOT jab, and jab alone, engaging yourself in a jousting match for the first 2-3 rounds. Let both hands go, because there WILL be many opportunities for you in this fight.
Go for the KO if, and when it presents itself, early or late.
I believe Tony Thompson will be there to nail, early if you hurt him, keep your distance, and overwhelm him with straight punches; and late if you wear him down methodically, using your 50+ pro fight career smarts, which must include remaining calm, not wasting any punches, and excellent conditioning, because Thompson has been known to run out of gas in long fights, so again, the KO opportunity will be there as well.
Do yourself, and more importantly, for boxing, with it’s dwindling fan base a favor by making an emphatic statement come fight night, and silence the bereft critics.
No matter what anyone says, you’re the uncrowned heavyweight champion of the world.
Take no heed of biased magazines, so arrogant as to call themselves The Bible of the sport (!) that print nothing but critical drivel about you, rival promoters with paper heavyweight belt holders, who lie through their teeth howling “My guy is the #1 in the world!” Nor the so-called “expert” opinions belched out by young, bug-eyed, brash, and loud-mouthed TV commentators, who begrudgingly rate you #1, but have the idiocy to say in the same sentence that fat-ass, post-Klitchko victim Sam Peter, is #2 in the world after knocking out a 55 yr. old-looking Oleg Maskaev to win his trinket.
Wladimir, you’re the best heavyweight titlist on Earth.
You’re the uncrowned champ of the world, and even your detractors, the other heavyweights in the world, and anyone who follows the sport knows it.
Stay focused, take one fight at a time, and you’ll fulfill your dreams.
Best of luck always, and much respect—
Philip H. Anselmo
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