The Cinderella story of Tony Thompson's world title dreams came crashing to the canvas in the 11th round last night at a packed Color Line Arena in Hamburg, Germany, courtesy of one too many right hands from IBF/WBO/IBO Heavyweight Champion Wladimir Klitschko.
Thompson began the bout with plenty of gusto, successfully taking the fight to the champion in the initial frame, but was prevented from gaining too much momentum as Klitschko clinched and slowed the action down.
Klitschko was wary of Thompson, even more so after they were both cut from a clash of heads in the early going, but managed to regain control of the bout behind the jab and occasional sharp right cross.
Thompson tried to shake up the proceedings behind a body attack in the middle rounds, and although he enjoyed some success, the American couldn't dictate the pace of the fight as Klitschko found range just often enough to stay in the driver's seat.
Waiting a bit longer than usual to open up his attack, Klitschko finally did so in the seventh and eighth rounds, punishing the game challenger with ripping right hands and a few left hooks while absorbing the occasional single shot from Thompson.
The effort of the previous rounds forced Klitschko to back off the gas in the ninth and tenth frames, which allowed Thompson to surge forth, resulting in good exchanges that were conducted on generally even terms from both fighters.
Thompson tried to do more of the same in the 11th but the visitor was clipped by a perfect Klitschko one-two combination that canvassed Thompson hard and ended the fight at 1:38 of the round.
Klitschko wins his ninth consecutive bout and sees his record to 51-3 (45) while Thompson, now 31-2 (19), loses for the first time in eight years.
On the undercard, America's Johnathan Banks, 20-0 (14), captured the IBO Cruiserweight title with a close majority decision victory against Sicily's Vincenzo Rossitto, 36-6-2 (22), after 12 rounds.
European Light Middleweight Champ Zaurbek Baysangurov, 19-0 (14), retained his crown for the second time when opponent Ivan Gonsta, 16-2-2 (4), of Moldova was unable to answer the bell for the seventh round.
Ultra active 20 year old light heavyweight Haxhi Krasniqi, 23-2 (5), engaged in his 25th contest in less than three years since turning pro by outpointing Steve Kroekel, 5-3-1 (5), over six rounds.