David Hayes’s First and Only Defeat

By Ted Sares

I was on the receiving for the most of it. He rocked me and got me hurt. I felt David was getting tired, but I hung in there. I’m showing age is not a barrier.

--Carl Thompson

I could see in his eyes that he wasn’t that gone in the first round. A lot of people take fights where they are 100% sure of winning, but I knew Carl takes punches and can come back…

--David Haye

Manchester-born Carl Thompson (34-6) is a former three- times Cruiserweight Champion. He was the UK’s Arturo Gatti known for snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. This was no more apparent than when he met Sebastiaan Rothmann in 2004. The big South African had been rendering a terrible beating on “The Cat” only to be knocked out by one of the most brutal overhand rights ever seen in a Brit arena.

Previously in 2001, “The “Cat” was in another closet classic when he lost to American Ezra Sellers in a fantastic slugfest in which both warriors were down multiple times. Reminiscent of the Norkus-Nardico classic, the Cat's all-out pier 6 with Sellers involved savage give-and-take (Thompson was knocked down four times, Sellers twice)! Sellers finally halted “The Cat” in the fourth round and ended a winning streak that had started after Thompson lost to Johnny Nelson in 1999. Thompson had been decked many times before, but he'd always gotten up. Against Ezra, he was separated from his senses and sent to Feline Dreamland. The bout demonstrated what can happen when two chill-or-be-chilled fighters go to war.

Carl Thompson finished his career with six straight wins and will forever be adored by his fans as a humble but fierce warrior who participated in a number of exciting fights, but it was his second-to- last fight that perhaps will be remembered most.

The Haye fight

In 2004, he met the promising and highly touted David Haye (10-0 coming in) for the IBO cruiserweight crown in Wembley Arena in Sheffield. Haye started fast and pounded Thompson brutally with a variety of shots making The Cat’s legs wobble. Haye, however, was expending a lot of energy in the process and the sweat on his muscular back was glistening. “The Haye maker” continued the menacing assault in the second and third cantos and almost took out the “Cat” with his hard, albeit somewhat wide, punches. Thompson had little to offer in return as Haye took a bit of a breather late in the round.

In the fourth, Haye started to tire and Thompson gained a foothold using his sledge hammer short right shots to begin to level off things. Carl was still getting hit with flush punches that would have floored most other opponents, but Haye was beginning to gas. His mouth was open and his legs seemed less than steady. The turnabout had occurred and the Cat was now on the prowl.

In the fifth stanza, “The Cat” pounced on “The Haymaker “and then a right caught the partly off-balance Haye and sent him to the canvas. When he got up, Thompson went after him like he was after wounded prey and unleashed a an unanswered number of right hands the last of which was a head snapper that prompted Hayes’s trainer and manager Adam Booth to wisely throw in the towel and save his fighter for another day. The cunning and much older “Cat” had clawed his way to another big win.

It was truly a pity that Carl Thompson flew under the radar of American boxing writers and fans. In many ways, his exploits were just as noteworthy as those of Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank (who he beat twice in 1998), or Allen Minter. Maybe it was because he fought as a cruiserweight (a lower profile weight division) but more likely it was because he rarely fought outside of the U.K.

As for David Haye, he may have learned a valuable lesson in that loss as he launched a well-orchestrated 15-fight winning streak and is now preparing to take on the formidable Wlad Klitschko.

Article posted on 07.04.2011

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