Sharkie’s Machine: Wladimir Klitschko KO’s Thompson in Eleven
By Frank Gonzalez Jr., Exclusive to Doghouse Boxing (July 14, 2008)  
Saturday at the Color Line Arena in Hamburg Germany , Wladimir “Dr. Steel Hammer” Klitschko, the reigning IBO, IBF and WBO Heavyweight Champion took on WBO top contender Tony “The Tiger” Thompson in a spirited contest that saw Thompson land at a higher percentage but lose by KO in the eleventh round. It had good back and forth action for two very large men, one six foot five inches, the other six foot four and a half for a combined weight of 488-pounds.

This was actually a pretty decent match up that saw Klitschko working hard against a man who once upon a time, was one of his sparring partners. At times, Thompson behaved like a sparring partner too. But most of the time, it was a competitive fight.

In the end, Klitschko got a knockout victory that redeems him to a degree for his last lack luster appearance against Sultan Ibragimov last February, who pawed with Klitschko for 12 boring rounds and saw Klitschko win the Decision but lose the crowd. In that fight, Klitschko rarely used his right hand and left the impression that he was too timid to mix it up and make entertaining fights anymore.

Redemption was on the menu for Wladimir Saturday, as he faced a man his own size, that showed respectable boxing skills but lacked the killer instinct necessary to force Klitschko into any uncomfortable situations. Thompson’s best asset was his body work. Just about all of his offense started with body shots. Klitschko took them well and though Thompson worked the body throughout the fight, Klitschko never appeared fatigued from all those shots he took below his chest. Klitschko showed good stamina, focus and finishing power in this one and retained his titles and reinforced the notion that he’s the best fighter in his division.

Frankly, I don’t understand why after 12 years as a pro and three years of being a World champion for a second time, Klitschko was not slated to fight either of the other two champions in the division, namely Ruslan Chagaev (24-0, 17 KO’s) or Sam Peter (30-1, 23 KO’s). Chagaev had an open schedule and should have been available. Peter is slated to fight Wladimir’s brother Vitali, who makes his return to the ring (after two years away) in early October.

It’s annoying to think that Vitali could come back, beat Peter and then assure that there’ll be no unified champ at HW since Vitali and Wladimir have always stated that they’d never fight each other. As good as Vitali was a few years ago, its doubtful he comes back as potent after being away so long. This is boxing, not baseball. Chances are Peter beats the very rusty Vitali and then there should be no excuse for Wladimir not fighting Peter immediately afterwards. But who knows what behind the scenes politics will prevent that from happening when the time comes? Of course there is gigantic Nicolay Valuev (48-1, 34 KO’s), the top contender in the WBA, who’s not a very good boxer as much as he’s an anomaly. And now I hear talk about John (won’t go away) Ruiz (43-7-1, 29 KO’s), who’s lost two of his last four and is miraculously ranked inside the top ten after a wins over Otis Tinsdale and Jameel McCline. Ruiz will likely end up getting a title shot he doesn’t deserve. I don’t want to see hit and hug John Ruiz vs. anyone. That would be more like punishment than entertainment.

Tony Thompson gave Wladimir a good enough sparring session to suggest that he is possibly better than some of the other top guys in the division. I think Thompson would do well against the likes of Chagaev, Valuev, Povetkin and maybe even Peter.

The only other Heavyweight out there that’s exciting enough to stir the crowd, is still just a prospect named Chris Arreola (24-0, 21 KO’s), who while still unrefined, has the right attitude and the killer instinct that is so sorely lacking in the wasteland that is the Heavyweight division today. I know Arreola is not ready for Wladimir, but I bet he’d make it a fight worthy of remembrance! Since boxing is not based on any kind of merit system, why not?

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