Exclusive Interview of New Zealand Promoter Craig Thomson

By Charles C. White – Kindly taking time out of his busy schedule, New Zealand based promoter Craig Thomson gave me the following interview about his upcoming promotions and a few of his fighters who will be on the undercard of the upcoming Friday Ahunanya vs. David Tua clash this Wednesday, March 31st.

How are you today Mr. Thomson?

CT: Hi Charles, I’m good thank you..

In our last interview, we talked just before what turned out to be a successful promotion for you down there in New Zealand. What’s in store for you next promotion wise?

CT: Well Charles I’ve also promoted another show since the last one we discussed, Jameson Bostic and Clarence Tillman were my professional bouts with a novice pro or White collar as some like to call it undercard, turned out to be a great night with some very exciting fights. Promotion wise I’m now looking at a June/July date, so watch this space.

You mentioned Jameson Bostic in our last interview. Refresh the readers’ memories on Bostic if you would please.

CT: Bostic is a New York native who has been fighting mostly in New Zealand since we got him up and fighting again after his 13 month layoff due to contractual issues with Mr. Don King. He’s a talented southpaw who’s been fighting at Cruiserweight but is making his way back down to his more comfortable weight of Light-Heavy. Expect to see some good things from Bostic in the near future.

Who will he be fighting next?

CT: He’s scheduled to fight Oscar Siale a 11-2-0 Samoan fighter from Auckland, New Zealand. Siale is a tough, durable customer who always comes in shape. I expect Bostic to take care of business however.

About how long until you think he is ready and able to fight for a title, or at least a top 10 opponent?

CT: Realistically he needs to have at least a fight if not 2 back at his favored Light-Heavyweight, that’s the weight we’ll look at moving him into some serious fights in. Right now he’s fighting Siale at a catch-weight of 185lbs, although Bostic could make 175 right now the catch-weight was brought in because Siale could not. I’d like to see Bostic in with a Top 10 guy before the end of the year, however we’ll definitely be looking at at least one more fight at 175 and most probably in the Australasia region, so all you 175’er’s please stand up!

Clarence Tillman is a massive man at 6′ 5” and anywhere from 270-290 lbs. What can you tell us about him? And why the slow start to his career?

CT: Yes sir, Tillman is a genuine heavyweight. Clarence had a solid Amateur Career, and moved into the pros only 18 months ago he got caught up taking a few fights he maybe shouldn’t have on short notice and was perhaps a touch unlucky with some of the scoring in one or two fights also. He’s now totally re-focused on doing things right, which means getting serious with training, and not being used as a guy who takes a fight on 48 hours notice or less! He’s already lost 6kgs since his first fight in New Zealand a KO4 20 days ago so things are progressing nicely for Clarence.

You are keeping him very active in the coming months (according to boxrec.com, he will be fighting at the end of this month and twice in April), do you expect that he will be back on track by the end of these few fights?

CT: I always try keep my guys as active as possible, I don’t believe in putting them on the shelve and having them sit around not fighting. Clarence is a fine example of that, in the space of 2 months he would have fought 4 times all going well. I think he’ll perform better each fight, its hard to loose focus when you have plenty of fights booked. His last fight was a small step to getting back on track and I’m certain at the end of his 2 months in New Zealand he’ll be well on course to make some noise in the heavyweight division. I believe he’ll become a fine example of someone who’s had to do the hard graft early on and not had his record padded for 20 or more fights.

Who is he fighting on the Tua-Ahunanya undercard?

CT: Tillman is matched with Former New Zealand Cage Fighting Champion and Kick-boxer Leamy Taito. Taito is a strong and aggressive Heavyweight who’ll bring the fight to Tillman. Should be fireworks, but I expect Tillman’s height and reach will give Taito problems, along with his superior boxing experience.

What other fighters are you promoting at this point in time? Or perhaps managing?

CT: Have a lot of young amateurs wanting to get going as I’m opening a new boxing gym on the North Shore of Auckland. So I’m excited about getting the ball rolling there and seeing what potential professionals will come of that. Looking after a few New Zealand based fighters also.

Are there any other upcoming promotions of yours that we should know about? You mentioned a possible June date…

CT: Well as I said earlier I’m looking at a June/July date. Have been in talks to stage a WBO Regional Title fight featuring US fighter Brian Cohen against one of the local New Zealand boys. Also on the card will be Samoan Cruiserweight Champion Vaitele Soi (10-0-0) and Samoan Light-Heavyweight Warren Fuiava (6-0-0) both of whom are very exciting fighters with huge potential. So looking forward to bringing that card together.

What did you think of the fight between Shane Cameron and John Hopoate? That was quite a bizarre ending to the fight…

CT: Bizarre yes, and mainly because I think the Referee failed the fighters, fans, promoter and most of all boxing. Yes both guys were making it ugly with there holding and wrestling tactics. However so early into the fight for a Ref to call it off without first deducting points etc I feel is a slap in the face to fans who paid for the PPV and paid to be there live! They deserve better than that. He should have talked to both corners at the end of the 2nd round and made it clear he was looking at taking points if they continued. Had they then continued points should have been taken before making it clear to both sides a DQ was coming unless they sorted it out. That way the fans watching on PPV TV and live would have seen the Ref make Clear rulings on the action and could maybe better understand the DQ decision. Who’s to know, maybe both guys would have sorted it out after a few early nervous rounds and got into it…unfortunately we’ll never know.

On May 22nd, Kali Meehan will be fighting Ruslan Chagaev in what is being labeled as a WBA title eliminator. How do you see Meehan fairing in this fight?

CT: I’m concerned with Meehan’s lack of activity, and like I said earlier I like to keep my guys active so I’m not a fan of his wait and see policy he seems to have taken up. However looks like hes landed a WBA Eliminator against Chagaev so good on him. Chagaev hasn’t fought in a while either so it will depend on who comes back the stronger after long layoffs. Something tells me Meehan has waited to long and his time has past by so I’m going with a late rounds Chagaev stoppage.

Being so close to the action, I have to ask, who is your pick for the Ahunanya-Tua fight and why?

CT: Really looking forward to this fight, its the biggest fight in NZ since Tua Vs Cameron clearly. Ahunanya is a tough customer his record suggests that, es been in with some quality fighters and not been KO’d but hes lost. And there is point, every time Friday seems to step it up hes lost. I think hes one of those good tough fighters we get who cant quite make it to the next level and Tua should prove to be a level to high for Friday. Hopefully we see some fireworks early on, and the fight at least goes 4 or so rounds from a public’s point of view. Tua by TKO4.

An interesting thing about you that the fans should know is that you yourself box. Aside from a few exceptions, It isn’t every day that you hear of a boxing promoter who actually steps into the squared circle themselves. Tell us your reasoning behind getting into the ring yourself? Is it better to connect with the fighters that you promote by understanding what they go through?

CT: I just love the fight game and everything about it. Of course it has its ugly side as do most sports but I enjoy the challenge of getting inside the ring and testing yourself. I work as a personal Trainer also, and boxing trainer so naturally like to stay fit and as boxing fans we all should know Boxing is a fantastic way if not the best way to stay in shape. So I train to stay in shape also. It does help in understanding where a fighter is coming from, and knowing what they go through, pre-fight, during the fight and post fight. I get to see all sides of the sport from fighting, promoting, managing, training and matchmaking and I feel privileged because of this.

Tell us about your fights. How would you describe your experiences in the ring?

CT: Every ring experience you learn from, and while I have not had a lot of fights each time you step inside that squared circle you get that same rush and you just keep coming back for its unique. I’ve had some easy fights and some tough fights just like every boxer I fight again April 1oth then again April 16th so while I keep my fighters active I try practice what I preach and stay active myself!

Is there anything else that you would like the readers to know in closing?

CT: Please keep following this great sport of ours, there will be bad times but the good times will roll around again to. Boxing brings people together I’m lucky enough to have met and made so many good friends in this sport of boxing. Please also keep any eye on Vaitele Soi and Warren Fuiava and the team that is Events Polynesia!

Well it was great speaking with you again Craig. Thank you for the interview and good luck in your upcoming promotions.

CT: Thanks Charles, anytime my man

For questions and comments, Charles White can be reached at cwhite1078@mysvc.skagit.edu