Wladimir Klitschko seems unstoppable. Again, he has succeeded in keeping the belts in his possession. Last week, he downed Tony Thompson in the sixth round to keep a comfortable hold on his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight title belts.
Klitschko put Thompson on the canvas with a big right hand near the end of the fifth round at Stade de Suisse, and the 40-year-old American southpaw never recovered. The big question now is, who will stop this Ukrainian pugilist?
The Ukrainian champion dropped Thompson again in the sixth, and referee Sam Williams gave the challenger a standing count before stopping the fight at 2:56. “Thompson was not so easy to box. I’m satisfied,” said the 36-year-old Klitschko, who improved his record to 58-3 (51 KO).
Klitschko went as far as mocking the 40-year-old Tony Thompson prior to their world heavyweight title bout in Switzerland and his intimidating record continues. With the victory against Thompson, Klitschko has stretched his eight-year unbeaten run to 16 fights against the American. He retains his WBO, WBA and IBF titles at the bout at the Stade de Suisse in Bern.
Klitschko finished the fight five rounds sooner by knocking out Thompson in the 11th round of their first title fight in 2008. Thompson, who was the mandatory challenger nominated by the IBF, fell to 36-3 (24 KO).
After the fight, Klitschko led the 22,000 crowd in signing “Happy Birthday” to his trainer Emanuel Steward, who clocked 68 last Saturday. “Tony Thompson is very hard to hit,” Steward said. “Tony was watching Wladimir’s right hand all night.”
The bout experienced a cagey opening round that was followed by a scrappy second, as Klitschko twice wrestled Thompson to the floor. Thompson briefly stepped up his cautious tactics when landing a left to Klitschko’s face in the third but Klitschko finally landed a long, straight right in the fifth and the round ended with Thompson struggling on the ropes.
The champion cornered Thompson toward the end of the sixth, and landed punches to the head though no single blow appeared to cause serious damage.
The Klitschko brothers are a fearsome in the ring today and they manage to give each other moral support. Vitali was in his brother’s corner as usual, and acted as cheerleader in the third round, urging on fans in the football stadium when the first chants of “Klitschko, Klistchko” stirred. Vitali Klitschko will defend his WBC title against Manuel Charr of Germany in Moscow on September 8. And Wladimir will also be there to encourage his sibling to victory.
Enjoying a somewhat unchallenged bliss, the Ukrainian world champion extended his unbeaten run to eight years by overcoming 40-year-old Thompson in Berne, Switzerland last Saturday.
Thompson never recovered from a big right hand from Klitschko near the end of the fifth round. And the contest was over when Thompson hit the canvas again in the sixth.
It was 36-year-old Klitschko’s 58th victory, 51 by KO, for only three defeats - and his 16th in a row. Wladimir and his older brother Vitali have dominated the heavyweight division for so many years that they are now revisiting fighters from the past.
Thompson last met Wladimir Klitschko in 2008, when the American’s challenge was ended in the 11th round.
The outcome came as little surprise when heavyweight champion, a massive favourite as always, smashed Tony Thompson in a rematch that took place only because one of the sanctioning organizations made Thompson a mandatory challenger based on a victory against journeyman Maurice Harris that happened more than a year ago.
Klitschko did as he pleased. He thoroughly dominated the entire part of the fight last Saturday before dropping the American with a clean right hand, his best punch, in the fifth round and whacking him out with a series of shots at 2 minutes, 56 seconds of the sixth round at the Stade de Suisse, a 30,000-plus-seat outdoor soccer stadium in Berne, Switzerland.
The fans got what they came for, Klitschko added yet another chapter to his growing legacy, and the 40-year-old Thompson, who made it to his feet after the final knockdown but was in zero condition to continue, got his big-payday golden parachute.
Thompson had promised to be aggressive, but he wasn’t. Trainer Barry Hunter begged him to double and triple up with his right jab. He wouldn’t or, most likely, couldn’t because he didn’t like the fury coming back at him. And even though Thompson was fairly busy with his punches compared to most Klitschko opponents, he barely landed anything of note.
There is little left for Klitschko to accomplish after dispatching one top-10 foe after another during his six-year championship reign. He has been the best amateur in the world; he won a 1996 Olympic super heavyweight gold medal. As a professional, he is the best heavyweight of his era and a Hall of Fame lock.
And there isn’t a threat to him at the moment, especially when considered with his older brother, fellow titleholder Vitali Klitschko. They have promised that they will never fight each other because of a promise they made to their mother.
Analysts have opined that there are two possible goals left for Wladimir to strive for, the same goals that have been sitting there for him following other recent dominant victories.
He can wait until his brother retires, which might happen after Vitali’s September defence in Moscow against Manuel Charr (especially if Vitali wins a parliament seat in the Ukraine elections in October), and go after that version of the title.
Wladimir wants to own all of the major belts which are the only one missing from his collection. Grabbing that last belt is something he wants, too, even if he won’t say it publicly.
Additional reports from BBC sport.com