Carl Thompson - Put This Guy In The Hall Of Fame!

Carl Thompsonby James Slater - Though he will be eligible for being voted into The Hall of Fame in November of next year, it's unlikely Britain's Carl "The Cat" Thompson will get the call. He should, though. Next November, the Manchester-born warrior who held the WBO, the European and the British titles at cruiserweight will have been retired for the necessary five years to be valid for inclusion in that most prestigious of clubs, and though Carl is no all-time great, he deserves to be in.

Never a household name, even in his homeland, Thompson nevertheless gave boxing fans some of the most breathtaking, thrilling and even gut wrenching fights of modern times. He didn't always win them, but never - never - did the man born on the 26th of this month in the year 1964 fail to give his best whenever he stepped through the ropes.. For this reason, I believe Thompson should be enshrined in Canastota. In short, Carl gave us everything we like boxing and boxers for in the first place - always trying hard , never, ever giving up, overcoming huge odds, and being willing to go through things non participants couldn't even imagine. How Thompson earned his stripes as a prize fighter!

Turning pro, to no fanfare to speak of, at the age of 23 in June of 1988, as a 180-pounder, Carl would go on to engage in 40 pro bouts. Not a huge amount compared to some fighters, but most of these forty outings would prove to be hugely memorable ones. Losing early on in his career, the former kick boxer was unable to annex even the Central Area title of Great Britain. Not one to give up (a colossal understatement if ever there was one!), Thompson soldiered on after taking inside the distance losses Vs. Crawford Ashley and Yawe Davis (a non-title bout) and eventually captured both the British and WBC International cruiserweight titles. Later still, against former WBC 190-pound king Massimiliano Duran of Italy, Carl was able to win the European cruiser belt - and he did it by KO, and in Italy, at that.

Now something of a name, Thompson made a successful defence of his Euro championship away from home, as he stopped the accomplished Akin Tafer (a former and future WBC title challenger) in Tafer's French backyard - halting him in six rounds. Still the big money evaded Carl, though (as it would throughout his entire career, the truth be known).

Then, in June of 1995, the 31-year-old received a world title shot against Germany's Ralf Rocchigiani, for the vacant WBO cruiserweight strap. Surprisingly, this chance came at home. This good fortune of a shot at the big time was to have a cruel ending, however. Miles ahead on points, Carl suffered a painfully dislocated shoulder in the 11th round and was unable to continue. The man known as "Rocky II" won on a TKO and the belt was his (the two would meet again).

Three so-so wins later - including one over the still-fighting heavyweight journeyman that is Jason Nicholson - Thompson got a second shot at "Rocky." This time travelling to Germany, "The Cat" took the belt on a hard-fought split decision - no easy feat, a Brit winning on points in Germany. Now a "world" champion, the 33-year-old was about to twice face a British boxing legend.

It was at this point that the gut-wrench factor came to play in the career of Thompson.

Meeting Mr. "Simply The Best" himself, Chris Eubank, Thompson gave us two fights that had astonishing action and drama. Though he was moving up from his middle and super-middleweight days, Eubank was still teak-tough and a very clever fighter. Hurting Thompson in both fights - very badly in the first bout, when he decked and almost finished off the champion - Eubank found out firsthand how much of a never-say-die battler "The Cat" was.

The mid-ring action was nothing short of palpable in both fights. Looking like he was there for the taking, only for Eubank to posture and pose instead of going for the finish (in fight one), Thompson later said he was playing possum. The crowd could never have guessed, and to many Eubank let a stoppage win slip away. Chris lost both bruising encounters, being stopped, on an eye injury, for the first time in his own great career in the second fight and he never fought again.

Though he'd retired a British great, it was the brave loser who received all the post-fight praise. Still largely ignored by the mainstream, the now 23-4 WBO champ boxed on. More bad luck followed for Thompson.

Meeting another British rival, in the form of Johnny Nelson eight months after the second war with Eubank, in March of 1999, Thomson went home feeling aggrieved when he was subjected to a premature 5th round stoppage loss. Thompson was bitter about being stopped on his feet by relative non-puncher Nelson, but his complaints fell on deaf ears mostly. Back to British and European level, Carl won back both titles.

Then winning the lightly regarded IBO title with a 5th round TKO of the tough Uriah Grant in early 2001, Thompson went fully into his highlight reel warrior role.
The IBO belt was, and still is a lesser title, but how Carl made the fights he had while defending it unforgettable ones!

Meeting America's Ezra Sellers in Manchester in November of 2001, Thompson and his foe gave us a classic slugfest. Downed an amazing four times, Thompson climbed back up and returned the favour twice in an electrifying four rounds. Sellers finally prevailed by KO in the 4th. After this battle - one of the best ever seen in a British ring - many wrote Carl off; not that he wasn't used to that.

Not ready to give up yet, the 39-year-old came back a year-and-a-half later. How many more wars could this man give us? As it turned out, two incredible ones!

Regrouping with three wins over limited opposition, Carl them met South Africa's Sebastiaan Rothman for his old IBO belt. A savage fight ensued. Down in the 4th round and tiring already, the challenger bounced back to deck Rothman in the next round. From there on in Thompson defied logic by staying upright for a further four rounds. All but exhausted and looking for all the world like a finished fighter, Thompson uncorked a massive right hand that left the champion face first on the mat in the 9th round. Thompson had pulled out a truly remarkable win.

By now, Carl should have definitely been a household name in Britain, but he wasn't. One fighter who soon would be decided to call him out, though, and test his metal against the tough but surely ready-to-be-taken veteran. Enter David Haye.

September of 2004 was the date, seven months on from the Rotham fight, and the then 10-0 Haye felt he could add Thompson's useful name to his win record. He was wrong. "The Hayemaker" gave the 40-year-old a severe pounding for the first three rounds or so, and in truth the fight could perhaps have been stopped. But Carl sucked it up once again and then came roaring back when Haye tired. In another great fight and in another astonishing performance that saw him come back from what looked like certain defeat, Thompson forced Haye's corner to throw in the towel at 2 minutes and 53-seconds of the fifth round. Haye has never lost since.

By now, the brutal fights HAD caught up with Carl, and it showed in his next fight - even though he won it. Boxing on the Ricky Hatton-Carlos Mauser card in Manchester in November of 2005, Thompson retired after out-pointing France's Frederic Serrat. Carl had done more than any fighter could ever be asked and he hung up the gloves with a record of 34-6(25).

Hardcore fans know all about Thompson, and they know what a great ambassador he was for British boxing.

It is to be hoped the guys in charge of The Hall of Fame know all about him and his merits also.

Article posted on 16.05.2009

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