Boxing: Thompson produces one punch to capture title
Monday 09 February 2004
On the same day that Lennox Lewis made his departure official, Carl Thompson won his third world title to become one of British boxing's best fighters.
Thompson was fighting a lost cause for eight rounds and two minutes and 50 seconds of round nine before finding the best punch of his 16-year career to knock out South Africa's Sebastian Rothman and win the International Boxing Organisation cruiserweight title.
The capacity crowd at the Ponds Forge International Sports Centre in Sheffield had fallen silent and were clearly waiting for the referee, Richie Davies, to step in and end Thompson's remarkable career in the seconds before he found the punch that sent Rothman down and out for the full count. Thompson had been on the floor earlier in the fight, was losing heavily and, at 39, it looked as if he would join Lewis on "Retirement Friday" and call it a day, but he found the punch to add at least one more chapter to his remarkable career.
Thompson's victory gave the crowd something to cheer about on a night when the local fighter Clinton Woods lost in his rematch with the Jamaican-born Glencoffe Johnson for the vacant International Boxing Federation light-heavyweight title. Woods was a clear loser in a fight he was expected to win.
The following night at York Hall, Bethnal Green, Matt Skelton defended his English heavyweight title over 10 ponderous and physical rounds against Julius Francis. The fight lacked excitement but that was expected and now Skelton will challenge Reading's Michael Sprott for the British and Commonwealth heavyweight title.
Skelton, 37, improved his record to 12 fights without defeat but his inexperience was exposed by Francis, who often went for minutes without throwing a punch, and he will need more time in the gym to help with his conversion from the often brutal world of K-1 to boxing.
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