36-year-old Ukrainian icon Wladimir Klitschko travels to the Stade de Suisse Wankdorf in Berne, Switzerland for a mandatory defence of the IBF portion of his World Heavyweight crown against American Southpaw Tony Thompson this Saturday.
This will be the 61st fight of Klitschko's 16-year glittering professional career, which will ultimately see him enter the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the current Heavyweight champion of the world and top 10 Pound for Pound ranked fighter according to Ring Magazine, will be meeting Thompson for the second time.
6ft 5 inch American southpaw Thompson first faced Klitschko back in 2008 at the Colour Line (now renamed Imtech) Arena in Hamburg, Germany, in which Klitschko was made to fight hard, and at times digging to the body, before finally delivering the knockout blow of Thompson in the 11th round.
Body work is a rare feature of Klitschko’s style of working off that long, accurate and punishing left jab before delivering powerful left hooks and fight ending over-hand rights.
It is also the third time that Klitschko has chosen to rematch an opponent. The other two occasions were against Nigeria's Samuel Peter, whom Wladimir defeated on points in a WBO and IBF eliminator despite being sent to the canvas three times during the fight by the big hitting "Nigerian Nightmare".
The younger Klitschko rose to the canvas each time to silence the critics that he did have heart despite a questionable chin that has seen him on the canvas 11 times and stopped three times.
In their second bout, Klitschko dispatched the shorter and heavier Nigerian in 10 rounds to retain his titles after successfully shutting Peter’s right eye and was tying him up effective on the inside after Peter ducked under that powerful left jab.
The other rematch came against America's Lamon Brewster, a shorter, faster fighter who also knocked Klitschko down and wore him out before stopping him in the fifth round of their first bout stateside as Wladimir was becoming increasingly unsteady on his legs, forcing referee Robert Byrd to stop the fight.
Two years after Klitschko regained his form and was starting to establish his reign as the best heavyweight in the world, he met Brewster again.
For six rounds Klitschko dominated the smaller Brewster around the ring with his punishing left jab and combinations to wear down and force Brewster to be withdrawn by his trainer Buddy McGirt as Klitschko was crowned as Heavyweight Champion of the World.
Since then, Klitschko has never lost a bout and has regularly delivered knockouts as he has picked up the IBO, and WBA titles along with the Ring belt.
Recently, Thompson was installed as Klitschko's mandatory challenger following an IBF four man tournament, against fellow Americans Derric Rossy, Maurice Harris and fellow Klitschko victim Eddie Chambers, to find the IBF’s next challenger, or victim depending on your outlook, to challenge Wladimir Klitschko.
Thompson dispatched Harris, the USBA champion in three rounds while Chambers defeated Rossy on points on his side of the draw. The final eliminator between Chambers and Thompson was cancelled after Chambers was forced to pull out with injury leaving Thompson with his second world title challenge against Klitschko.
It is clear that Klitschko will be the overwhelming betting favourite in this rematch against Thompson and will look to set the pace with his long accurate jab to prevent Thompson from working on the inside to try and rough him up.
But it shall be Klitschko’s superior technical ability and punching power will be the most decisive elements in this fight as he grinds down and stops a brave and gallant Thompson in the middle rounds.
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