Though Tony Thompson came up short in the end, he provided one of the most difficult challenges against reigning IBF/WBO/RING Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko last summer. Losing by 11th round KO, the tall, rangy 38-year-old Thompson (33-2, 21 KO’s) is still a viable contender for the heavyweight throne coming off his impressive win against Chazz Witherspoon on December 5.
The Washington DC-based lefthander who started boxing in his 20s, believes the best is still to come. “I think I’m one of the top guys. Once I get back from these surgeries – I had surgery on my meniscal (knee) before the Klitschko fight – which I wasn’t in great shape for,” says the American gladiator. “Now I can get into great shape and I’m ready to show I can take this division by storm. It’s gonna be incredible to see what I can accomplish if I’m fully 100% healthy. I haven’t felt that since the Dominic Guinn fight.”
When asked if Wladimir Klitschko did anything in their match that was not expected, Thompson replies, “Nothing about him surprised me. I knew he was going to be the champion. He’s not champion for nothing. I knew he’s a big strong man. But I knew I could beat him. Like I said, people didn’t realize – I didn’t know – I had a meniscal tear in my knee. It was affecting me the whole camp and obviously affected me in the fight. I was competitive on one leg. Imagine what I’d do on two good legs [laughs]. And the proper training.”
The world has watched how dominant Dr. Steelhammer is from an outside observer’s perspective. Thompson spent over 30 minutes in the ring fighting Klitschko and shares additional detail on the experience. He explains why it’s such a complicated task to do battle with the mighty Ukrainian. “First of all, the incredible strength he possesses. And then the speed he has for a big man,” says Thompson. “Not only that, people disregard his movement. He has incredible movement, footwork, all that stuff. Pure movement. And he’s smart as a motherf***** scientist [laughter].”
With the high respect he has for his conqueror, Thompson is eager for a second try. “I’ve always been impressed with Wladimir. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t beat him. I’m looking forward to getting back in the ring with him once I’m 100% healthy and once we clean out the rest of the people that claim to be the #1 challenger for the crown.”
Thompson would like to fight another Dan Goossen promoted stablemate next. “Hopefully I can get Arreola next. We can put on a fight for the top North American heavyweight challenger. And then go from there. Arreola, he’s a great competitor, he’s a fan favorite. I think it would make for a great fight.”
But will Dan Goossen be interested? “Probably not,” Thompson says and adds with a laugh, “But who cares.”
About ten minutes after we talk, Thompson respectfully challenges Arreola at the press conference and then the two heavyweight contenders trade barbs about each losing to a Klitschko. The argument is sportsmanlike and never comes close to erupting into mayhem, even when Arreola politely but alertly reminds everyone he never tasted the canvas against Vitali, unlike Thompson who was flattened by Wladimir. The intelligent and classy, Thompson calmly retorts by pointing out, “I fought that monster on one leg.”
Note: Thompson does not yet have his next fight scheduled and Arreola is likely to face Tomasz Adamek in April on HBO.