Wladimir Klitschko, the WBC heavyweight champion, squares off with challenger Tony Thompson for the second time on Saturday in Switzerland, hoping to silence the 40-year-old for good.
Klitschko (57-3, 50 KOs) hasn't seen someone seriously challenge him since he lost via fifth-round TKO to Lamon Brewster in April 2004. He's gone on to win 15 straight bouts since then.
Thompson (36-2, 24 KOs) is looking to avenge his loss to Klitschko in July 2008, when he was knocked out in the 11th round. He's scored five knockouts in five fights since that bout.
So, what is the world buzzing about leading up to the heavyweight title fight on Saturday?
Let's take a look.
Thompson is promising a grueling fight against the 36-year-old Ukrainian, via ESPN:
I'll fight his a--. You know, a lot of people, they sit back and they just accept the inevitable, but that's not what we are coming over to do. This is going to be a fight, I can guarantee.
Thompson, a big underdog, didn't go so far as to guarantee victory, but he knows he has the potential to take Klitschko into the later rounds.
Klitschko hasn't been as bold as you would expect, declining to guarantee anything. He says that he won't be taking Thompson lightly, given the lengthy bout in 2008.
Klitschko said, via ESPN:
I'm more paranoid about this fight to be in great shape than other fights because he gave me a tough fight in the first fight.
According to BoxingScene.com, Klitschko tipped the scales at a career-high 249.12 pounds at the weigh-in. Thompson weighed in at 244.71 pounds.
A grand total of 32,000 people are expected to attend the clash in Bern, Switzerland.
How will this fight be any different?
Well, Thompson is pointing to a torn meniscus in his knee as a reason he wasn't able to train as much as he wanted leading up to the 2008 fights. He also says he'll be in much better condition this time around—judging by the weigh-in, that appears to be the case.
Although Klitschko hasn't declared he will beat Thompson, that hasn't stopped him from talking a little trash.
Klitschko told Thompson at the pre-fight press conference, via the Daily Mail:
You were very confident going in to the fight but you lost and after you said you were injured.
I don't understand why you only said you had the injury after the fight...
In their first fight, Thompson actually landed more punches than Klitschko (150-121) and connected at a higher percentage (37 percent to 29 percent), according to CompuBox (via BoxRec.com). Thompson also landed 93 power punches to Klitschko's 85.
But the punches Klitschko did land ultimately did much more damage, culminating with the right hand that dropped Thompson in the 11th round for good. Although Thompson can compete with Klitschko's size better than most of the Ukrainian's opponents, he still can't compete with Klitschko's punching power.
In that sense, Thompson has to fight an almost perfect bout to shock Klitschko in Switzerland. He displayed a valiant effort against Klitschko in 2008, surprising some, but still ended up on the wrong end of the fight.
His defense must be superb on Saturday to have a chance.
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