Boxing: Thompson's late development may trouble Klitschko

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The Independent Online

The travelling circus surrounding the heavyweight championship of the world stops in Hamburg tonight when double champion Wladimir Klitschko defends his belts against the latest American pretender Tony Thompson.

Klitschko has the humour and intellect that so many previous incumbents of the now tainted heavyweight title have lacked but his safety-first approach to fights has excluded him from the big time.

Thompson has lost just once in 32 fights and up until about a year ago had easily worked his way through a list of no-hopers in shameful mismatches. However, his recent form shows that he has the skill, size and determination to trouble Klitschko.

Most American fighters arrive opposite Klitschko in rings pitched in heavyweight boxing's backwaters like Munich, Mannheim or Cologne, and fold without much of an effort."I truly believe that Thompson is different," said Klitschko, who will be defending his World Boxing Organisation and International Boxing Federation titles.

"I saw his fight last year in Germany when he was the underdog and he ruined [Luan] Krasniqi. That fight has made me train harder.," he added.

Thompson, 36, had put together two good wins before the Krasniqi fight and there is something slightly different about the big man. He is, for a start, a southpaw and that is a rarity at this level. Also, unlike many of Klitschko's previous challengers, he is not concerned about the champion's physical advantages.

"Everybody kept telling me how big he was and how scary he is but he's not that much bigger than me and all I've seen him do is smile," Thompson said.