Until he fell into the cavernous drugs trap that engulfed so many fighters, especially heavyweights, in that troubled decade that was the 1980s, gifted heavyweight Pinklon Thomas seemed set for very good things – maybe even great things – Trained by the legendary Angelo Dundee, Thomas looked special. His left jab, his athleticism, his speed, his solid chin and other attributes serving him well.
Going pro in the late summer of 1978, Thomas romped to his first 20 wins, before he was held to a January 1983 draw by South African Gerrie Coetzee. Less than two years after this minor setback, Pinklon was champ, as in WBC heavyweight champ. With his natural ability, his good side-to-side movement, his fine left hand and his underrated punching power, Thomas upset and dethroned Tim Witherspoon to snatch the belt in 1984.
A retention followed, a too-long ten months later, as Thomas stopped the dangerous Mike Weaver, a former champ, in eight-rounds. A certain Mike Tyson was somewhat impressed with Thomas’ performance, later stating how he saw Thomas “take Weaver’s shots” and that this had shown him Thomas was the man he would have to beat to prove he was the best of the best. These two would of course meet soon enough.
But Thomas, by now falling victim to the out-of-the-ring temptations that proved so disastrous for too many fighters, was himself upset in March of ’86, with the raw and rugged, far less skilled Trevor Berbick out-muscling him on his way to a close 12-round decision. Who knows what Dundee thought about the fact that Thomas met defeat at the hands of the pesky Berbick, the way the great Muhammad Ali had lost to Berbick in his ill-advised final fight.
For Thomas it was back to the drawing board, well away from the cocaine parties and the rolled up $100 dollar bills. By now, however, though still yet to reach his 30th birthday, Pinklon was to find out how disgracefully he had wasted, squandered his gifts. There were three comeback wins post the Berbick disaster that should never have happened, before the 6’3,” superbly proportioned former champ was chucked in with the rampaging, at his peak Tyson. Pinklon managed to bag a round or two, his jab still serving him reasonably well, but Tyson’s raw aggression would not be denied.
The knockdown/knockout in the sixth-round was painfully hard, so hard and violent that Thomas busted his shoulder as he hit down. Tyson, a notable student of the game, later said he had scored the best, most important win of his then 26-month pro career.
Thomas fought on, or tried to, and he was fed to a cruiserweight/cum heavyweight named Evander Holyfield. It was another sad night for Pinklon. But there was worse to come. In 1990, future champ Riddick Bowe used Thomas as target practice, while in 1991, new star Tommy Morrison shellacked the former champ for three-minutes before staying sat on the stool was Pinklon’s sole option.
Still Thomas boxed on; losing only the thirteenth of his leading-to-nowhere comeback. Finally retiring in 1993, with a still-respectable 43-7-1(34) ledger.
Thomas today serves as a reminder of the lethal pitfalls that exist for any fighter.