By Danny Winterbottom
Wladimir Klitschko finally eased into top gear before detonating his trade mark right hand onto the chin of American challenger Tony Thompson to end matters in round six, and in doing so retained his WBO, IBF and WBA super world heavyweight titles at the Stade De Suisse in Berne, Switzerland on Saturday July 7.
Klitschko improved his knockout record over the hapless challenger who was the IBF’s mandatory challenger, to 2-0, getting the job done five rounds earlier than in their previous meeting back in 2008 when Thompson claimed a knee injury prevented him from performing at his best.
The 40-year-old came into his second crack at the divisional king on the back of five stoppage wins but victories over the likes of Maurice Harris, Owen Beck and Chazz Witherspoon proved not to be sufficient preparation for the ultimate test in the heavyweight division.
In fairly un-eventful opening session that saw the champion particularly tentative, Thompson looked to have the confidence to swap punches at range, nicking the fight opener on my card
“You’re timing him well but need to get closer” said Steward calmly between rounds.
Slowly but surely Klitschko did get closer to his man, as instructed, and began to find a home for his vaunted right hand. Thompson was falling short with his southpaw right as the champion showed good mobility to evade his punches. The bout was a messy affair in the early going as the two fighters continually stepped on each other’s lead foot, and Thompson was bundled to the canvas late in the second.
“Dr Steel hammer” was in an aggressive mood in round three, firing right hands with serious intent as Thompson found hitting him clean as tough the second time around as it was back in 2008 when he was knocked out in eleven. The long levers of the giant Ukrainian fended off any Thompson punches with ease, allowing him to measure the American for another one of his missile-like-rights.
Barry Hunter, in the corner of the challenger, became more and more vocal as the rounds went by as it became clear his man didn’t have the tools for the job.
“I ain’t come here to do no losin’” was his motivational speech to Thompson to start the fifth.
Right on cue Wlad landed a solid, disguised right hand behind an extended left in a neutral corner that dropped Thompson like a stone. The veteran American did well to beat the count and the bell saved him from a Klitschko onslaught.
“Believe” shouted Barry Hunter as a weary Thompson, blood dripping from a cut over his right eye, hauled himself up off his stool to face Klitschko in round six.
As Thompson engaged reverse gear, seemingly all the fight punched out of him by the right of the champion in the previous round, Klitschko stalked him around the ring looking for the finish.
Klitschko wasn’t exactly cute about the shot he was looking for. A left poked into the face of Thompson with a thunderous right following quickly behind it, and a short left for good measure folded the challenger like a piece of crumbled paper as both men exchanged punches along the ropes.
Thompson lay sideways with his arm in a strange position as referee Sam Williams administered the count. Somehow he managed to summon the courage and strength to rise to his feet, but referee Williams took a long, hard look at the man from Washington D.C before waving the bout off much to the delight of the pro Klitschko crowd. It was a sensible stoppage as Thompson seemed to climb to his feet more out of pride than willingness to continue the fight.
“Thompson was not easy to box. I’m satisfied” said the champion.
After the fight Klitschko lead the 22,000 strong crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to his trainer Emanuel Steward who turned 68 on Saturday.
“Tony wasn’t easy to catch clean” said Steward. “He was wary of Wladimir’s right hand all night.”
Standing forlornly in the ring after failing to dethrone the champion for a second time, the veteran American was in reflective mood.
“I got caught but I’m ok. He’s strong and he is the world heavyweight champion for a reason.”
Klitschko improves to 58-3(51) and remains the king of the heavyweights, whilst Thompson, surely having his final shot at the title, falls to 36-3(24).
On the undercard, 21-year-old Emanuel Steward trained light middleweight protégé Tony Harrison made it eight stoppage wins from eight starts as he proved far too strong and powerful for the over matched 35-year-old local fighter Flavio Turelli. This was the third appearance in Germany for the Kronk fighter who continues to benefit from his connections to the legendary Steward.
“I like fighting on the Klitschko cards and I like fighting in Germany” said Harrison. “Not only is it good exposure for me but it’s good for me fighting someone other than an American, getting me used to different styles.”
Other results from the undercard were as follows:
Aniya Seki WPTS 10 Eva Marcu (vacant women’s IBF super bantamweight title and vacant Global Boxing Union super bantamweight title)
Nuri Seferi W MD 8 Giulian Llie (Cruiserweights)
Istvan Szili WPTS 8 Daniel Urbanski (middleweights)