Tony "The Tiger" Thompson: "Don't Give Up On Me!"Written by Joseph Herron
If at first you don't succeed, try, try, and try again.
This is a motto that captures the essence of a fighter, and Anthony Tyrone Thompson does indeed possess the heart and soul of a true warrior.
On July 12th, 2008, the pugilist most affectionately known as "The Tiger", who at the time was mandatory challenger for Wladimir Klitchko's IBF Heavyweight title, had a date with destiny at the Color Line Arena in Hamburg, Germany; the same venue in which he earned his title opportunity by stopping German fighter Luan Krasniqi in the fifth round of their title eliminator bout.
Although the 39 year old fought valiantly and earned the respect of millions watching the fight worldwide, he failed to become the first American born heavyweight champion since 2004. Not only did he suffer his first defeat since 2000, he was knocked out for the first time in his entire professional career.
Since experiencing his only official loss in over 10 years, Tony Thompson (36-2, 24 KOs) has made his way back into heavyweight relevance by stringing together five consecutive knock-out victories, including wins against current American prospect Chazz Witherspoon, former Jamaican born contender Owen Beck, and sentimental favorite Maurice "Sugar Moe" Harris.
On October 29th, the Washington D.C. native will attempt to earn another shot at dethroning the current Heavyweight King and recognizing his ultimate dream of becoming the next great American Heavyweight Champion when he faces fellow American heavyweight Fast Eddie Chambers (36-2, 18 KOs) at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City New Jersey.
The humble but confident Mr. Thompson feels that although his friend Eddie Chambers is a very capable fighter, there is very little that the Philadelphia based counter puncher can do to keep him from fulfilling yet another date with destiny.
"I'm never going to discount Eddie as a fighter or a man," states the 6 foot 5 inch pugilist. "We've spent a lot of time together sparring and just being friends, so I will never discount Eddie. Knowing how capable he is in and out of the ring will simply make me train harder because I have to kick his ass."
"To get to where I have to be in life, I am going to have to go through one of my favorite people in the world. But, I've always told everyone that I would kick my own brother's ass to get back in the ring with Klitschko."
"I love my brother dearly, and he wouldn't just let me do it without a fight, but I would kick my brother's ass just to get another shot at the title; that's what I feel like I have to do. I feel like I'll be fighting my little brother in this fight with Eddie."
Although Thompson is looking forward to seeing the universally recognized heavyweight champion in the ring once again, most ringside observers don't share his enthusiasm concerning a potential fight with the younger Klitschko. The majority of boxing pundits feel that a second bout between "The Tiger" and "Dr. Steel Hammer" would ultimately result in another win for the reigning champion.
Tony feels that most boxing scribes are dead wrong.
"Most people don't realize that I wasn't 100% going into that fight with Wladimir Klitschko," claims Tony Thompson. "I had a torn meniscus in my right knee going into that bout. I suffered it during training camp but I didn't realize the severity of the injury until after the fight. I didn't say anything during training camp because I didn't want to jeopardize my shot at the heavyweight title. But, I should have done a better job of relaying this information to everyone involved because I feel like I let everyone down that night in Germany."
"When preparing for that fight, I wasn't able to properly condition myself physically. Anyone who knows anything about boxing realizes that you can't prepare for a prizefight without the appropriate amount of roadwork."
"I really couldn't train as hard as I needed to in order to be successful, and I truly underestimated the conditioning of Wladimir Klitschko. So I overestimated myself and I grossly underestimated the Champion. The positive thing about having that experience is that I know I won't make the same mistake twice."
Even through serious injury, Thompson was able to have more success against the big Ukrainian than most of Wladimir's opponents in recent fights. Tony's height and southpaw stance gave Klitschko problems during the early rounds, but due to the injured knee, Thompson couldn't sustain a well balanced attack throughout the bout's entirety.
The Washington D.C. resident truly believes that a return bout with Klitschko will have an entirely different outcome if he is able to enter the ring in good health.
"I can beat anyone in the heavyweight division if I am able to be me in the ring," proclaims the 39 year old southpaw fighter. "If you look at the Klitschko fight after the first few rounds, I just wasn't myself. I wasn't able to throw punches in bunches and press the fight like I normally would. I wasn't able to sit down on any shots because I didn't have any strength in my legs. Due to the fact that I couldn't get in the best shape possible, I felt fatigued early in that fight."
"I flew overseas 6 days before the fight, and if you're not in perfect physical condition, that jet-lag will tear your ass to pieces."
"There is nothing that tops experience, and I learned a lot of lessons with my first encounter facing Klitschko in that championship fight. I am really looking forward applying those valuable lessons against Wladimir Klitschko when we meet again."
Although Tony is confident that he will indeed earn a second shot at the Klitschko title, "The Tiger" recognizes the potential problems that could arise in the ring when facing Fast Eddie Chambers on October 29th.
"Eddie has become a much more experienced fighter since losing his title shot to Klitschko as well," declares Thompson. "He is very mature for his age. Eddie is one of the craftiest fighters in boxing and has impressive hand speed. People don't give him the kind of credit that he truly deserves. He is an undersized heavyweight, but Eddie possesses deceptive power and has incredible counter punching abilities."
"So I see all of his attributes posing potential problems for me. But, like I stated before, Eddie unfortunately is standing in the way of me achieving my ultimate goal...and that is to meet Wladimir Klitschko again in a world title fight."
Despite coming up short in his initial shot at championship gold, Tony has a message for his fans and detractors alike:
"If you are a true Tony Thompson fan, don't give up on me. I promise that the best has yet to come. I know I'm pushing 40, but I'm making 40 look damn sexy!! I am feeling great and I am in the best shape of my career. I am an honest, hard working heavyweight who will always give a great effort in the ring. I am workman-like effective and my record speaks for itself."
"Don't give up on me...I will fulfill my dream of bringing Heavyweight gold back to America!!"