Boxing: Haye faces first big test in Thompson

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The Independent Online

After A truly awful year the British boxing scene will hopefully receive a much-needed boost this evening when David Haye and Carl Thompson fight for the International Boxing Organisation cruiserweight title at Wembley Arena.

Haye is the glamour boy of a sport that is fast losing its glitz and Thompson has been for the last 15 years one of the finest and most entertaining boxers on the circuit.

Tonight's fight, for a belt that really is secondary to the action, has been dubbed "don't blink", and that, for once, looks like a sound assessment of what should happen in the ring. Haye is unbeaten in 10 fights and has stopped or knocked out everybody that he has met, but he is 17 years younger than Thompson and has never met anyone like the Manchester fighter.

Thompson has made a habit of defying the odds and being avoided by most cruiserweights in the world. In the past he has had to travel to Germany, Italy and France for meaningful title fights and has been involved in some truly brutal encounters in Britain. In his last fight he was trailing by eight rounds going into round nine but he somehow found the necessary punches to knock out his young South African opponent and win the title he defends this evening.

Haye was ringside that night and was stunned by the fight's outcome - he had actually led a desperate chorus calling for the referee to save Thompson from further punishment in rounds seven and eight.

Tonight, it is unlikely that both boxers will still be standing by round five and there is the very real chance that both will be on the floor before it is finally over. Thompson clearly has the experience and the age but he also has the proven vulnerability against punchers and Haye is one of the best in the business at the moment.

Audley Harrison has pulled out of his proposed fight against an unnamed opponent in the United States on 13 November after damaging ligaments in his left index finger. Harrison suffered the injury during sparring and will have an operation in New York on Tuesday.

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