Twenty Years Ago Today: The Carl Thompson-Sebastiaan Rothman War; A Genuine Closet Classic!

By James Slater - 02/06/2024 - Comments

Some boxing experts, Steve Bunce for one, say former cruiserweight warrior Carl Thompson ranks as one of the most consistently exciting British fighters ever, if not as THE most consistently exciting British fighter of them all. And with good reason. “The Cat,” as Thompson was aptly nicknamed, his ring career one that seemed to see him live as many as nine lives, what with Thompson coming back from seemingly certain defeat in a manner that would have made Matthew Saad Muhammad proud, often left fans dumbstruck.

Consider these great action fights from Thompson, with each of them seeing him come roaring back when badly hurt, even seemingly out of the fight:

Ralf Rocchigiani I – Both men down in a torrid fifth round, Thompson having to be pulled out due to a dislocated shoulder.

Chris Eubank I – A fight that saw Thompson stunned and taking some real hurt, only to battle through and win via decision against an equally courageous Eubank.

Ezra Sellers – An absolute slugfest that was crammed with knockdowns, this despite the fight only lasting four rounds, with Sellers (RIP) getting the win.

Sebastiaan Rothman – Perhaps the most thrilling fight of Thompson’s career, with both men hurt, down, and with a fatigued Thompson, seemingly done for, sensationally turning things around with one punch in the ninth round.

David Haye – Thompson’s last big win, and a fight that saw him ship an ocean of pain and punishment before coming back to take out an exhausted Haye in the fifth.

Thompson didn’t always get the win, but he sure gave his all in trying to do so.

And Manchester’s Thompson had other great fights, and in compiling his 34-6(25) pro record, the man with the chiselled physique earned himself a special place in the hearts of those fans who saw him fight. Today marks the 20th anniversary of Thompson’s absolute epic with South Africa’s Sebastiaan Rothman. The two met in Sheffield, on the under card of Glen Johnson against Clinton Woods, and what a breathtaking war these two cruiserweights put on.

Fighting for the marginal IBO belt that Rothman was defending, Thompson had a bad start, losing the opening three rounds and then being dropped in the fourth. Bloodied but unbowed, Thompson dug in as he had done so many times in other fights. Thompson was credited with a knockdown in the fifth, and the war was on. But Thompson, aged 39 to Rothman’s 29, was seemingly running on empty.

Rothman came back from his own knockdown, with him bagging the rounds, and with Thompson looking to be on the brink of collapse. Thompson, his mouth hanging open, really did look to be running on fumes in the eighth, even though he was still forcing out punches on sheer heart. And then, in round nine, with Rothman having backed Thompson up and looking for the finish, and with the third man hovering closely, “The Cat” sprang into life, cracking Rothman with a bomb of a right hand that completely and utterly turned the fight around.

The shot turned Rothman’s lights out, with him going down face-first, and Thompson had won a battle that might just be one that is as close to a ‘Real-life Rocky’ fight as any you have ever seen in a British ring.

Yeah, Carl Thompson was one heck of an exciting fighter!

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