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Odlanier Solis vs. Tony Thompson: Preview and Prediction for Heavyweight Bout

Briggs SeekinsFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2014

Odlanier Solis vs. Tony Thompson: Preview and Prediction for Heavyweight Bout

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    Scott Heavey/Getty Images

    Saturday night in Istanbul, American heavyweight contender Tony Thompson faces former Cuban amateur Odlanier Solis. Thompson has been stopped twice by Wladimir Klitschko—in 2008 and 2012.

    Solis was knocked out in one by older brother Vitali Klitschko in 2011. 

    Still, they both remain formidable opponents in the division. I would judge both men at least a fight or two away from any potential title shots, but a win will at least keep them in the line. 

     

    Statistics courtesy of Boxrec

Tale of the Tapes

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    Martin Meissner/Associated Press
          Tony Thompson     Odlanier Solis
    Record:     38-4, 26 KOs     20-1, 13 KOs
    Height:     6'5"     6'1.5"
    Reach:     81"     79"
    Weight:     About 255-260 lbs     About 255-260 lbs
    Age:     42     33
    Stance:     Southpaw     Orthodox
    Hometown:     Washington D.C.      Miami, Fla.
    Rounds:     204     105

    Like most big men, the official weights for these two have varied widely. But both of them fight fairly consistently in the 255-pound range. 

    Thompson represents the Nation's capital, while Solis makes his home in Miami after fleeing Cuba. Thompson is a southpaw that knows how to use his reverse stance as a tactical advantage. 

     

Main Storyline

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Boxing fans might be looking toward young fighters like Deontay Wilder and Bryant Jennings to bring excitement to the U.S. heavyweight scene, but at 42, Tony Thompson remains arguably the best American big man. 

    Thompson has been stopped twice by Wladimir Klitschko. In a relatively competitive fight in July 2008, Thompson was knocked out in Round 11. In July 2012, Thompson was far less successful, going down by TKO in six. 

    Since his second loss the Klitschko, Thompson has hung on to become a dangerous gatekeeper in the division. He derailed the career of Brit Dave Price with back-to-back stoppages in May and July of last year. He gave unbeaten Kubrat Pulev a tough battle last August. 

    Odlanier Solis has shown potential in his professional career, but he was thrown into a World Title fight much too fast. In March 2011, he challenged Vitali Klitschko after only 17 professional fights, losing by demoralizing Round 1 KO. 

    Solis' best wins have come against opponents like Monte Barrett and Leif Larson. But in a post-Klitschko heavyweight scene, there may be room for him, especially if he can get by Thompson.

     

Strengths

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    Tony Thompson has a sneaky and dangerous overhand left. He controls distance well behind his lead jab, maximizing his length and setting up awkward angles on his opponents to sting them with the left. 

    The sting and unpredictability of Thompson's left is a weapon of sorts itself, as opponents are wary about committing against him and cede him a lot of ring terrain, avoiding bad positions. 

    Odlanier Solis is a big, well-trained boxer with decent power. He's got excellent ring savvy and disrupts his opponent's rhythm. 

    Solis employs a good defensive high guard and throws a quick and dangerous overhand right from behind it. 

     

Weaknesses

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    Tony Thompson is a smart, crafty boxer, but Wladimir Klitschko showed twice that his options become limited when he is out-jabbed. 

    Thompson looked quick and well-conditioned in the early going against Kubrat Pulev last August. But the Bulgarian did pull away as the fight went on, suggesting the over-40 Thompson might be showing some signs of age. 

    Odlanier Solis got knocked out against Vitali Klitschko by a punch that might have put a cow to sleep. It had as much to do with how dangerous a nimble giant like Klitschko is than any particular thing Solis did wrong. 

    But the fight was over so quickly, I'd argue it is of limited use experience-wise for Solis, who has otherwise not gained a lot of bout time against world-class professional heavyweights like Thompson. 

     

Tony Thompson Will Win If...

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    To win this fight, Tony Thompson is going to have to stay busy behind his jab. He will need to remain patient while looking for the opportunity to unload his left hand.

    Solis is the stockier fighter, and he's going to try to take away Thompson's space and angles. So Thompson is going to need to use a lot of movement to control distance.

    He also needs to hammer Solis to the body when he tries to come inside. If Thompson can slow down Solis with a body attack early, he'll make it much easier for himself to maneuver into position for the big left later in the fight.  

     

Odlanier Solis Will Win If...

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Odlanier Solis is going to need to counter Thompson's jab with his own hook. To do this, he's going to have to get a feel for Thompson's rhythm and be able to step in and get off first. 

    Controlling the fight's tempo will be critical for Solis. Thompson is dangerous at countering with his left hand against an aggressive overhand right.

    But Solis should be able to time attacks with the hook in a manner that will disrupt Thompson and move the Cuban into a position where Thompson cannot easily reach him with the left. On the inside, Solis should look to land to the body. 

    When not attacking, Solis needs to stay out of Thompson's range entirely. Playing the inside-out game will be an important aspect of Solis' strategy. 

     

Prediction

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    Martin Rose/Getty Images

    Tony Thomspon has made a nice late career for himself out of surprising young fighters. But I don't think Cuban veteran Solis is going to be easily taken off guard. 

    This will be a tactical engagement that moves slowly in places. Both Thomspon and Solis like to deliver big counter strikes. 

    But I think Solis is slightly better equipped to push the action—if he needs to. I think he'll have a lot of luck with using his hook to disrupt Thompson and that he'll take control of the fight in the later rounds. 

    This one might not be a thrill to watch, but Solis should be able to avoid the really dangerous punches and pile up a lead in points. I think the Cuban will win by about seven rounds to five. 

    A win over Thompson should still mean something in the heavyweight division, and it could be enough to land Solis a title shot sometime in the next year or so, especially if Wladimir Klitschko ends up being indifferent towards collecting the now vacant WBC strap. 

     

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