Interview With Tony ďThe TigerĒ Thompson - ďPromoters Have Kept The Top Guys Away From Me!Ē

tony thompson13.08.07 - By James Slater: 30-1(18) heavyweight contender, Tony ďThe TigerĒ Thompson of Washington D.C is one of the divisionís most talented fighters. Yet due to the big fights having eluded him - due, Tony says, to the fact that top name fighters have ducked him - ďThe TigerĒ is not as well known as a man with his skills should be.

To add to the frustration for the thirty-five year old southpaw, a shot at reigning WBO champ Sultan Ibragimov has been delayed due to the champion opting to face Evander Holyfield instead - despite Tony having earned his chance with a win over Luan Krasniqi in a WBO elimination bout this past July.

As a result, no-one would hold it against Tony to be more than a touch bitter, but this is not the case. Coming across as both upbeat and friendly, the six foot, five heavyweight was more than happy to speak with me over the phone earlier today. Here is what the big man had to say.

James Slater: Firstly, Tony, whatís the latest with the WBO and your title shot. I know you beat Luan Krasniqi in a final eliminator for Sultan Ibragimovís belt, but now Sultan is fighting Evander Holyfield. Where do you stand, are you angry?

tony thompsonTony Thompson: Well, Iím not angry at the WBO, because they gave me the opportunity in the first place [to box in an eliminator]. Iím more angry with the so called champion, in Ibragimov. He bragged that heíd knock me out, yet now he seems to be doing everything to stay away from me. The WBO have promised me a fight with the winner, so Iím looking forward to meeting Octoberís winner. But if Holyfield wins, I think he may go the other way and try to fight the other champions in a bid to become undisputed champion. I think the other champions would go for that. If that happens the WBO will have to accommodate me somehow, though.

J.S: Is it a frustrating time for you right now?

T.T: Itís pointless getting frustrated, really. Iím disappointed not to be getting my chance, but what can you do? Iíve just got to remain calm.

J.S: Talking about your fifth round KO win of Krasniqi, was that your best performance so far do you think?

T.T: Yeah, in as much as it was the biggest and most important fight for me. But in terms of performances, Iíve had some other good fights in the past. But there was a lot at stake in the Krasniqi fight.

J.S: Iíve read it said that Tony Thompson is the best kept secret in the heavyweight division. Why are you not more well known do you think?

tony thompsonT.T: Because a lot of promoters have kept their top guys away from me. They know I would beat them and they donít want me up there! There are lots of top guys I know I would beat. Wladimir Klitschko, for example, who is generally considered THE heavyweight champion - I know I would defeat him.

J.S: You feel you have the size and the style to beat Klitschko?

T.T: Oh, most definitely. I have the size, Iím six foot, five. Iím very calm in the ring, I do a lot of subtle things that you will see if your watching closely. I also pay a lot of attention to my defence. Iím not a huge puncher, but I can hit a bit, too. Iíd fight anyone, anywhere to be honest.

J.S: You said there that Klitschko is regarded as the real champ, do you also feel heís the best of the title holders right now?

T.T: Yes, Iíd say heís the best. I think heíd destroy [Oleg] Maskaev, who is going to fight [Sam] Peter soon, where I think heíll lose also. And Klitschko has already beaten Peter.

J.S: Where would you rate yourself at the moment, do you think YOUíRE the best in the world?

T.T: I do believe that. But until I get the belts itís difficult to say that. As soon as the opportunities come, Iíll prove Iím the best.

J.S: Do you think there are too many veteran heavyweights - guys like Holyfield, Oliver McCall and Riddick Bowe whoís fighting again soon, for example - clogging up the division?

T.T: Iíve no problem with those guys still fighting, as long as it doesnít stop the young guys getting their chance. Those fighters [the veterans] have done a lot of good for the sport in the past. But the young talent must be given its chance to be showcased.

J.S: Can I ask you about your amateur career, how many fights did you have before you turned pro?

T.T: (laughs) I only had sixteen amateur fights. I was 13-3. I basically was a guy who walked in off the street at age twenty-seven and decided to be a fighter. I always knew I could fight, so I decided to earn money from it. Iíve been blessed in my career, there arenít too many guys in any sport that could go on to do so well at the age I started at.

J.S: Who were your heroes/influences back when you started?

T.T: Muhammad Ali, of course, Iíd love to meet him. I used to watch Riddick Bowe train, as well - when he as in the Washington D.C area (Tonyís hometown).

J.S: From the thirty-one pro fights youíve now had, who gave you your toughest fight?

T.T: Wow, thatís a hard one to say. Thereíve been a lot of tough guys along the way. Vaughn Bean, who fought Holyfield for the title, he gave me a very hard fight. Also the Cuban guy, Yaqui Diaz, he was real dirty. He was doing everything he could to win - he was using elbows, head butts and he was hitting low. He hit me low thirteen times, a guy at ringside counted!

J.S: What will you do now, as you await what happens with your WBO shot, just keep in shape?

T.T: Thatís what I do anyway. I always stay in good shape. I wonít wait around until next year for a fight with whoever wins in October. My team will get me another fight of our own to keep me active, Iím not going to just sit and wait around to fight. I feel Iím at my peak right now - not just physically, but mentally, too.

J.S: Itís been great talking with you, Tony. For my final question, what is the hardest part of being a pro fighter?

T.T: For me, Iíd do anything for my family. So Iíd say being away from them is the hardest part. Being away from home and missing so many things. I missed my kidís graduation, so that was tough. Obviously, the training for a fight can be hard and it can hurt getting punched in the face for a living (laughs).

J.S: Well, I want to thank you for your time and I hope you get your deserved shot at the WBO belt soon. Good luck in your future.

T.T: Okay, thank you. I appreciate the call.

Article posted on 14.08.2007

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