Tony Thompson (tied for 184)
Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
October 18, 1971
6’5” / 81½″ reach / 235-270lbs
40-7-0-0(27) from 1/27/2000 to 3/5/2016 (16y2m)
1-5-0-0(0) against the top ten
0-2-0-0(0) against linear champions
0-0-0-0(0) against hall-of-famers
1 fights for the linear championship – 0-1-0-0(0)
Top ten opponents: W-SD-10 Odlanier Solis, L-KO-11, L-TKO-6 Wladimir Klitschko, L-UD-12 Kubrat Pulev, L-UD-12 Carlos Takam, L-KO-6 Luis Ortiz
-2 total score (1 + -4 + 0 + 1)
Tony “The Tiger” Thompson was a late starter in boxing. Naturally athletic, he didn’t turn to boxing until his late twenties, looking for an alternative means of income. He turned pro after a short amateur career, already 28 years old.
Tony started his career against the usual assortment of clubfighters and fellow prospects, being moved slowly to help make up for his late start and limited amateur experience. He lost a four round decision in his fifth fight, against a 6-0 prospect, but after that point, he started winning and didn’t look back. His level of competition gradually improved, as did his skills. Thompson’s height and reach gave him an imposing presence in the ring. He developed an excellent jab, and when in shape, he had a good motor. He could throw a lot of punches for a big man. In 2002, he had wins over Ron Guerrero and Zuri Lawrence, and a good win over a young Yanqui Diaz in 2004. In September 2004, The Tiger won a decision over former fringe contender Vaughn Bean, but then was out of the ring for a year.
In June 2006, at 34 years old, in his 29th pro fight, Thompson finally got his break. Fringe contender and former blue-chip prospect Dominick Guinn took on the Tiger in San Diego, and the older man took “The Southern Disaster” to school, comprehensively outworking and outboxing him. Thompson won a near-shutout decision, and moved on to another challenge.
Timur Ibragimov, cousin to contender Sultan, was a solid boxer, but Thompson outboxed him easily over 10, despite being woefully unprepared, having to box in basketball shoes. German fringe contender Luan Krasniqi represented a good test for Thompson, and a few people expected Krasniqi to win. But Thompson came through again, beating “The Lion” handily in the battle of big cats, winning by 5th round knockout. Thompson would close out his 2007 with a quick knockout of gatekeeper Cliff Couser. He ended the year with a number 9 ranking by The Ring, and was looking toward a shot with the number one boxer in the division, Wladmir Klitschko.
Thompson came into the July 2008 fight with Klitschko extremely confident. Tony had served as a sparring partner for Klitschko, and felt like he knew how to handle the IBF titlist. Several prognosticators gave him a good chance at upsetting the king of the division. Throughout the first half of the fight, Thompson did his best to give those pundits what they predicted. He pushed Wlad harder than he had been pushed since his tough win over Sam Peter three years earlier. Thompson landed quite a few jabs and bodyshots early, and was able to blunt the powerful Ukrainian’s response fairly well. But as the fight wore on, Klitschko’s more accurate and powerful shots began to slow down Thompson, and override his greater volume. Thompson tired, and eventually walked into a huge counter right cross that put him down for the 10 count. Tony lost, but gave the best heavyweight in the world a good fight, and he rose in esteem in the boxing world.
Thompson stayed busy, winning five straight fights by knockout, all over guys ranked somewhere between 20-50 in the world. He was biding his time, until July 2012, when Wladimir Klitschko called. By this point, Wlad was the linear champion, having won that distinction with his 2009 victory over Ruslan Chagaev. At 40 years old, the 10th-ranked Thompson was one of the oldest men to contend for the linear heavyweight title. Unfortunately, his age, combined with improvements from Klitschko proved to be too much, and Thompson was battered fairly easily, losing by 6th round TKO.
After his second loss to Klitschko, Thompson could have decided to hang ’em up. He was over 40, and had a successful career at that point. But the loss lit a fire inside the old man. His late start meant that he had relatively few miles on his odometer, and Klitschko was the only man to do any real damage to him. He hadn’t been though many hard fights, otherwise.
In February 2013, in Thompson’s very next fight, he was brought in as cannon fodder against rising prospect David Price. The 6’8″ Price was considered to be very much like Klitschko, a tall, rangy, power puncher with good skills and a suspect chin. Well, Thompson discovered that suspect was an accurate description for the Price beard. A big right hand in the second dropped Price hard, and he never recovered, losing by shock TKO. The return match was inevitable. Five months later, they did it again. Price was able to make a better fight of it this time, flooring Thompson in the second round. But Price punched himself out in the third round follow up, and The Tiger roared back with a vicious body attack in the fourth, and finished Price off in the fifth, bringing himself back into contention, and forcing Price to have to rebuild his career.
9th-ranked Thompson got a shot at 4th-ranked Kubrat Pulev next, but was unable to do much against his younger opponent, and dropped a wide decision. Thompson wasn’t quite done, however, and once again upended the prospects of a promising younger opponent. This time, the underachieving (albeit 7th-ranked contender) Odlanier Solis was up next. Solis was arguably a more skilled boxer, but in terrible condition. Despite his age and own relatively soft shape, Thompson outworked Solis, throwing more than 1,000 punches, a remarkable total for a 22 year old featherweight, much less a 42 year old, 266 pound heavyweight. Thompson won the split decision, and notched his first win over a top-ten contender.
Three months later, Thompson dropped a wide decision to the underrated Carlos Takam, and seemed to be fading out of contention. But in boxing, there are always more chances, and he had another shot at Solis before disappearing altogther. This time, the grossly-out-of-shape Solis had nothing for the older, but better-conditioned Thompson. After 7 slow-paced rounds, Solis quit on his stool, giving Thompson an 8th round stoppage victory.
Age is undefeated, however, and Thompson would lose his next two fights, a competitive decision to fringe-ish contender Malik Scott, and a painful sixth round drubbing against rising contender Luis Ortiz. The Ortiz fight was more than four years ago from this writing, and as far as I know, Thompson has not officially retired. But it’s unlikely he’ll return again, particularly at a high level. So for now, we can look back at his career as a part of boxing history.
The Tiger was a good fighter in a fairly weak era, and his best wins occurred while he was past his prime. He won’t be remembered as a great, but he mattered for several years, and was often exciting.