By Johnny Walker
He’s been ducked by Tomasz Adamek, Alexander Dimitrenko, Tyson Fury, and Ruslan Chagaev, but European heavyweight champion Kubrat Pulev has finally found a man with the cojones to get in the ring with him: Tony “The Tiger” Thompson of the USA.
The two will meet in an IBF title eliminator for the right to fight world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko at the Sport and Kongresshalle in Schwerin, Germany, on August 24.
Thompson will be emboldened by his recent dual destructions of formerly rising British heavyweight David Price, a giant who was cut down to size by the no means small Thompson twice in a row. Price’s career was left in tatters, while the 41-year-old Thompson has found new inspiration and the will to try to become a world champion once again after failing twice against Wladimir.
However, the man in the opposite corner this time is no inexperienced David Price. Pulev was our Boxing Insider heavyweight of the year for 2012 for his wins over tough big men Travis Walker, Alexander Dimitrenko, and Russian giant Alexander Ustinov, who was previously undefeated.
Pulev also had a sterling amateur background, and is the exact opposite of Price in that he never gets uptight and panicky in the ring, regardless of the situation. You might say that the Bulgarian big man (he’s nearly 6’5″ tall himself) feels relaxed and at home in the squared circle. So Thompson is walking into an entirely different situation here, in that Pulev is not going to panic under fire when faced with someone’s of Thompson’s size and experience.
He also has a bit of flash, squiring around sexy Bulgarian pop princess Andrea when he’s not training for fights.
Nevertheless, the southpaw Thompson will prove tricky, the biggest challenge of Pulev’s career to date, because as the world recently found out, being beaten by a Klitschko brother doesn’t make one a bad fighter. Tony Thompson is still very much an elite heavyweight.
As for Pulev, he is lacking no confidence: “If I want to fight for the world championship, I have to beat Thompson. That’s exactly what I will do on August 24!,” said the Bulgarian.
This could be one of the most compelling, closely fought heavyweight battles of the year. I expect Pulev to pull it out late, but not before being tested severely by Thompson.
If, however, things go the other way, Wladimir Klitschko can get ready for his third meeting with “Tony The Tiger.”