Tony Thompson - "I Won't Take A Backward Step Against James Toney!"
Exclusive interview by by James Slater, 37-year-old southpaw Tony "The Tiger" Thompson, currently 31-2(19), gets back in the ring this coming December 13th for the first time since his unsuccessful challenge of IBF and WBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko. Opposing the 6'5" lefty will be all-time great James "Lights Out" Toney - a fighter who has promised to score a KO win. Taking time out from his training for a fight he feels will lead him into a much wanted rematch with Klitschko, Thompson very kindly took time out to speak with this writer earlier today.
Article posted on 06.11.2008
Here is what "The Tiger" had to say.
James Slater: Thanks for your time, Tony. Here at Eastside Boxing, we've got James Toney's take on December's fight, now we want yours. Firstly, how's training been going for the fight?
Tony Thompson: What's up Eastside Boxing!? It's been going fine. I'm only in the early stages right now, but everything's been going just fine..
J.S: Who have you been/who will you be sparring with to get ready for Toney's quick and cute moves?
T.T: I've a whole bunch of guys in mind, but mostly I'll be working with a buddy of mine, Eddie Chambers.
J.S: What do you think of James Toney as a heavyweight? He was a great middleweight, a great super-middleweight and a great cruiserweight. What do you think of him as a heavyweight today?
T.T: You said it! He's a great fighter. I can't see why he can't be a great heavyweight. He is a great fighter, that's the way I look at it. He's a future Hall of Famer, and I'll be ready for him.
J.S: You will be the biggest and tallest fighter he will ever have faced. Has he bitten off more than he can chew taking you on? Is he crazy taking a fight with you?
T.T: No, I don't think he's crazy. There have been great small fighters at heavyweight in the past. Joe Frazier was only 5'11", if he was even that, Mike Tyson the same. So I think Toney can still be effective at my weight.
J.S: Will your southpaw right jab be your main weapon in this fight?
T.T: It's my main weapon in any fight. Possibly more so in this fight, but at the same time I won't over-use it. I don't want to use it so much that he can time it and counter it.
J.S: Not to make you angry, but Toney says he'll KO you. Your thoughts?
T.T: It don't make me angry, we're heavyweights and we are always looking to get a KO. I mean, why is he even in there if he's not predicting a KO?
J.S: What do you hope a win against Toney will lead to for you?
T.T: I want it to get me back up as one of the world's top heavyweights. I've got to get back at [Wladimir] Klitschko. No-one knew it, but I wasn't totally healthy for that fight. I had only one healthy leg, I had a torn knee. That affected me a whole lot - my roadwork and my overall fitness. Don't get me wrong, he's a great champion and I'm not making an excuse. But I've had surgery on the knee now and I'm running hard and will be in much better shape from now on. Please understand I'm not taking anything away from Klitschko.
J.S: If you fought him again, would you fight the same style? I know you'd be in better health with your knee.
T.T: I'd definitely fight the same style, but I'd be more effective. I'd be able to carry my game-plan for the full 12 rounds. I wanted to come on in the late rounds with pressure, to get the stoppage after being ahead early on. But I was exhausted after the 3rd of 4th round to be honest with you. I had no strength in my legs.
J.S: Is it Wladimir you want again, or would you take a fight with Vitali Klitschko if it was offered to you?
T.T: I want Wladmir, I really have to get another shot at him before my career is over with. But if it took a win over his brother Vitali to get a rematch with him, I would do that if I needed to.
J.S: Getting back to the Toney fight. Most people think it will be a definite distance fight. Do you agree?
T.T: I don't agree, no. I think Toney will try and come to knock me out. With his pedigree, he'll come looking to get the stoppage. But I won't take one single backward step against Toney. I think it will make for a good action fight. People say Toney can't give action fights, but I think he can - look at his fights with John Ruiz and the first fight with Samuel Peter. That's the Toney I'm looking for, the one that fought Peter the first time - I thought he won that fight. I'm looking for that vintage James Toney. I'm sure he'll be well prepared for this fight. But as I say, I won't take a backwards step against him.
J.S: It's been great speaking with you, Tony. What is your final prediction? He says he'll get a KO, is that what you say too?
T.T: I'll get a win, that's all I'll say.
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