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Carl Thompson: Born to Thrill


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Carl "The Cat" Thompson is by many regarded as the most exciting fighter of his generation from Britain. He had a never say die attitude and would rather see himself knocked out than in a dull fight. Plus, he wasn't half bad as a boxer either. His right hand carried great power and scored him many knockouts. 25 knockouts in 34 wins and all of them worth seeing. Like his compatriot and rival Johnny Nelson, he had a slow start as a pro and lost a few fights, also getting stopped a couple times, before it started going well for him. His career was very long, spanning from 1988 till 2005, 17 years in all. He only had a year's layoff in between. And best of all, he retired as a winner.


Born Adrian Carl Thompson 26 May 1964 in Manchester, he later relocated to Bolton after his pro career started in his birthplace. Carl first tried himself at Muay Thai and twice challenged for the world title in 1987 and 1989, both times losing to the legendary Croat Branko Cikatic. He began boxing professionally in June 1988. His first two fights were at cruiserweight, but then he started fighting as a light heavyweight. He won his first eight fights before he was matched against Crawford Ashley for the vacant BBBofC light heavy title in October 1989. Unfortunately, he was stopped in his own homeground in Manchester by a TKO 6. He also lost the next fight to the Belgian-based Franco Wanyama in April next year. Wanyama put him down once and won on points after 6 rounds. It was a cruiserweight fight, like his next one, where he took on the 5-0 Terry Dixon and beat him on points after 8 rounds. He went back to 175 to fight Yawe Davis of Uganda and was stopped in 2 rounds. He then rebounded by scoring an upset victory over the 10-0 Nicky Piper, whom he knocked out in 3 rounds. It was his last fight against a light heavyweight, even though he came in weighing 10 pounds over the limit. He first captured the British cruiserweight title by stopping Steve Lesham by TKO 8 and then stopped Arthur Weathers by KO 2 to win the WBC International title. In February '94 he went to Italy to fight the European champion Massimiliano Duran and became the new European champion by knocking Duran out in 8. He then scored another impressive victory against Akim Tafer, the French former European champion, whom he beat by TKO 6. He was then given a chance to win the vacant WBO title against the German Ralf Rocchigiani on 10th June 1995 and the fight was held in Manchester. Thompson was the better man for most of the fight, but he got knocked down first in the fifth, but then stormed back and put his man down with a right hand. He was again down in the tenth, after which he injured his right arm. Early on in the eleventh, he was again down and it was clear that he couldn't fight any more, so the fight was stopped because of the injury.


He went back to the gym and was back in the ring next year, reeling off three easy wins before rematching Rocchigiani. This time, nobody could deny him the victory, even though one judge curiously gave the fight to Rocchigiani, but the other two had it clearly for Thompson and so he could finally lift that WBO belt. Few had thought early on in his career that he would ever achieve such a triumph. He then signed for his first defense against the most popular British fighter of that time: Chris Eubank. Eubank had never fought above 168 before, but he showed impressive power, knocking Thompson down in the fourth and staggering him in the seventh, but Thompson also fought well and gave back as good as he took. His accuracy was impressive against a skilled defensive boxer like Eubank, but his punches had little effect on the iron-chinned legend, except for swelling his left eye. In the end, the verdict was a close unanimous decision for the champion. Many complained because they wanted to see Eubank win another world title at another weight class, but noone can deny Thompson was more consistent and deserved to win. Eubank decided he wanted a rematch and Carl gave it to him. In July 1998 they again faced eachother. This time Eubank wasn't able to hurt Thompson like in the first fight while Thompson punches completely closed Eubank's left eye. After the ninth round, with Eubank ahead on two of the cards, the fight was stopped and so Carl the Cat could retain his title for the second time. And then came the downfall, in the shape of the tall and slim Johnny Nelson. Nelson was almost 3 inches taller and 6 inches rangier. A stylistical nightmare for Thompson, who was used to fighting from the inside, Nelson just bombed him from the outside with his long hands. He was knocked down once in the fight and was starting to take a lot of punches in round five, so the referee stopped the fight, but the stoppage was obviously premature and Thompson protested it. But the damage was done, his title had been lost.


He was back in the ring 8 months later and took on Terry Dunstan, another tall, big cruiser. The fight was for the vacant BBBofC title. It was a very competitive and close fight and the two fighters traded frequently with eachother in the center of the ring. In round 12, with about 30 seconds left of the fight, Thompson landed a left hook at the same time as he was hit with one and both fighters fell to the canvas. Thompson however managed to get up while Dunstan remained lying unconscious. The knockout was so severe it ended Dunstan's career. Dunstan had only lost one fight previously, to IBF champion Imamu Mayfield in a title fight, also on a late knockout. He would return much later after the Thompson fight but his career would never get back on track. For Thompson, it spelled another shot at the European title, which he won by stopping Alain Simon on a cut in round 6. The scores were mixed before the stoppage. He defended the title once against Alexey Illyin by TKO 2 and then in February 2001 he beat Uriah Grant by TKO 5 to win the IBO title. Grant was previously briefly the IBF champion. However, in his first defense of the title, Thompson was matched against Ezra Sellers, a hard-hitting fighter who would go on to challenge Nelson in his next fight and knock him down. Again, the fight was a barnburner. Both fighters were down once in the first two rounds, but then Sellers took over and put Thompson down in the third before knocking him out in the fourth with a right hand. It was the most brutal knockout loss of his career. After this devastating loss, he took a year off from the ring and returned in June 2003, knocking out two minor contenders. In February 2004 he got the chance to reclaim the IBO title against Sebastian Rothmann, an Israeli-South African fighter who had beaten Jorge Fernando Castro in his first defense of it. Rothmann was taller of the two and put Carl down in the fourth round, but Carl bounced back in the next round and returned the favour. He was still taking too much leather and the commentators were calling for the fight to be stopped, saying Thompson was finished. That continued until the ninth, when Rothmann landed a combination and grinned at him. Just a few seconds later, Thompson suddenly unleashed a right hand bomb which knocked out Rothmann cold. He got the last laugh.


He then defended his title against David Haye, the hottest prospect of the division. Haye at 6'3 was also visibly taller than the 6-foot Thompson and he came at him with all he had from the start. Thompson withstood his attacks, despite getting shaken a few times and came back in the fifth round, knocking Haye down twice and ending the fight with Haye out on his feet, to everyone's amazement. The old cat had done it again. He had his last fight next year against Frederic Serrat and won by UD10. He was now 41 and retired with a record of 34-6.

Edited by BoztheMadman
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