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Klitschko Carried Deep by Game Thompson But Prevails

They keep lining up challengers for Wladimir Klitschko like so many bowling pins, and the Ukrainian champion continues to roll strikes in effortless - if not inspired - fashion. The latest pretender to get bowled over was American Tony Thompson, whom Klitschko beat on a KO at 1:22 of the 11th round. But this time it was not without some effort.

Thompson, only an inch shorter than the 6'6 Klitschko and a southpaw, showed a surprisingly resilient chin and spurts of effective aggressiveness -- mainly in the early to middle rounds. But the champion, who has now won nine straight, wore him down and then turned up the heat looking for the knockout late and got it.

"This man (Thompson) was unbelievably determined," said Klitschko, whose record improved to 51-3 with 45 knockouts, a 90 per cent ratio. "This fight was very difficult."

Thompson (31-2, 19 KOs), who is 36 and only started boxing at 28, was very game and tried to work Klitschko's body in the early rounds to wear him down. But it was Thompson, a former sparring partner of the Ukrainian who eventually broke down under the accumulated effect of eating too many Klitschko right hands. Through 10 rounds, Thompson's chin held up against one of the most powerful right hands in boxing, and several times he landed good lefts of his own that seemed to stun Klitschko, although not hurt him.

While not what you would call a thrilling effort, Klitschko's victory was infinitely more exciting than his last bout in which he fought mechanically, fighting almost exclusively with his long, hard jab en route to winning a unanimous but boring decision over Sultan Ibragimov in February. Klitschko looked determined to open up his attack more and erase the memory of that fight for his many fans in the Hamburg arena. He abandoned his comfort zone jab at the beginning and kept throwing right hands, obviously looking for an exciting knockout. "You are judged by your last performance," Klitschko said, "and while it was good for me, it was not good for the knockout."

If there is a heavyweight fighter out there who can stop the 32-year-old Klitschko from rolling another perfect game, he hasn't shown his face yet. Klitschko proved once again, that while he may not be the most exciting heavyweight, he does one thing very, very well, and that is win. Next up is likely to be a sanctioning body mandatory in Russian Alexander Povetkin (15-0, 11 KOs), a 2004 Olympic gold medalist who has been rushed into contention by his German handlers and could have a tremendous upside. As for a challenge to Klitschko coming from America - which for nearly a century owned the heavyweight division - there appears to be nothing but the usual suspects, and all of them suspect.

Posted 12:00 AM | Jul 12, 2008

Wladimir Klitschko vs Tony Thompson

HBO WCB - Jul. 12, 2008

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