Tony Thompson: "Klitschko's Gonna Get His Ass Knocked Out!"

klitschko thompson15.04.08 - Interview by James Slater: For those fans that are not that familiar with heavyweight contender Tony Thompson, he is a 6'5" southpaw who holds an impressive 31-1(19) record - the sole loss coming on points back in 2000 in a four-rounder that what was only Thompson's fifth pro fight. Since then "The Tiger" has won 27 straight over an unbeaten eight years. Last year, in Germany, against the tough Luan Krasniqi, the 36 year old Thompson won an official WBO heavyweight title elimination bout, via an impressive 5th round TKO.

Since then, however, Thompson has been on the backburner, patiently - sometimes frustratingly - waiting for his big chance. Now, in July, he gets his chance courtesy of a fight with IBF and WBO heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko. Here is what the easygoing Tony had to say over the phone to this writer about his upcoming shot at glory..

James Slater: Firstly, Tony, you must be over the moon to be getting this fight with Wladimir Klitschko?

Tony Thompson: Yes. I always had faith that I would get my shot. Of course fighters have been avoiding me, what do they want to fight me for? They know they'd get beat if they did. I'm confident I can beat Klitschko. He's gonna get his ass knocked out, if you wanna know the truth. I don't mind telling you either (laughs).

J.S: Did you always have particular faith that the WBO would get you your title shot, being their number one mandatory fighter and all?

T.T: Well, I'm just glad they abided by their rules. I'm happy that they kept their promise of a title shot. I'm also happy that my shot at the title is coming against the man everyone recognises as the real heavyweight champion. I'm so excited about this fight!

J.S: Your win over Krasniqi, which made you the WBO number one. Was that your career-best performance do you feel?

T.T: It was my most important win, my biggest pro-fight. But performance wise, I don't think it was my best. But I knew I had to win that one. With no slip-ups.

J.S: You are considered to be the best heavyweight hope in America. Does that add pressure to your mind, in that the whole country wants you to win the world title?

T.T: No. That don't bring me pressure. What I'm going to do is write a story that's never been written before. For me to have come off the streets and then gone on to win the heavyweight title, that's a brand new story right there.

J.S: Let's talk about Wladimir. Firstly, did you see his last fight, with Sultan Ibragimov?

T.T: I saw the fight, but I wish I hadn't! I was not impressed. Of course, Klitschko dominated with his size advantage and everything, but his [Klitschko's] lack of will was really a letdown. It wasn't a good fight at all.

J.S: Like you, Ibragimov is a southpaw. Do you think the stance gave Wladimir problems and that you will do likewise being a lefty?

T.T: All I can tell you is I'm going to go right out there to fight him hard for 12 rounds. It doesn't really matter what stance I'm attacking him from. If people said Ibragimov's stance gave Klitschko fits, I think it will be my non-stop pressure that what will be giving him fits come July.

J.S: Do you worry that your big chance has perhaps come a little late, in that you're 36 now?

T.T: To be honest with you, I feel I could go on fighting until my forties. That's not what I want to do, but I believe I could if I had to. But no, I don't think I've lost anything with my age. I actually think I've gained in that I'm a lot wiser now than compared to when I was younger. I certainly don't think I've lost any speed, because I wasn't fast to begin with. So that's not an issue.

J.S: Are you angry that you've been made to wait for your shot so long?

T.T: Not angry so much as frustrated and desperate. I was desperate that I wouldn't get my chance to prove myself. I mean, I know I am getting on in years a little - I didn't want to wait this long. Now I'm going to take all my frustration out on Klitschko.

J.S: Your last fight took place in September 2007, when you KO'd Cliff Couser in 2 rounds. By the time you fight Klitschko you will have been out for ten months. Are you worried at all about ring-rust?

T.T: No way. I will do everything possible to ensure I'm in great shape for this fight. In actuality the rest has probably done my body some good. I've had a good break from the ring.

J.S: Of all your career fights so far, who has given you your toughest fight?

T.T: (laughs) You know, a lot of people ask me that question. The answer is always a surprise too. It was a guy named Scott Jones. He was a mail man from Maryland. He was a tubby fat guy, but he was so tough! Looking at him, I felt I'd go right through him. I fought him twice and neither time was it what you could in any way call a cake walk.

J.S: Has this fight with Klitschko come as a total surprise then, or did you have a feeling he'd want to face you as he says he only wants to fight the best out there?

T.T: Well, there was always speculation that we would fight. But in boxing that's all it is most of the time - speculation. But now I'm just so happy to be finally getting my big chance.

Article posted on 15.04.2008

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