Tony ‘The Tiger’ Thompson began 2013 with a roar but ended the year with a whimper. Heading into the first bout with the highly touted British heavyweight David Price, Thompson looked to derail the Price hype train. In a relatively young career, Thompson was seen as a gamble for Price, an awkward southpaw whose only losses in the previous thirteen years came at the hands of heavyweight kingpin, Wladimir Klitschko. Thompson it turned out, held a stronger hand. With back to back stoppage victories over Price, Thompson reinvigorated his own career and halted Price’s simultaneously.
On the back end of the year, Thompson next set his sights on Bulgarian heavyweight Kubrat Pulev. ‘The Tiger’ this time around showed more bark than bite, as the undefeated Pulev took a unanimous decision following thirty six minutes of action.
Odlanier Solis has been largely inactive over the last three year period. The Olympic gold medalist and amateur world champion has hit hot and cold since turning professional. Unflattering performances and fluctuating weight issues has brought much criticism on the Cuban. On fight night, it will be three years almost to the day since Solis challenged Vitali Klitschko for the WBC heavyweight title. Since suffering at first round knockout at the hands of Vitali, Solis has been sporadic with in ring endeavors.
In one outing in 2012, Solis picked up an alphabetical title, following a decision victory over Konstantin Airich. It would 2013 before Solis climbed between the ropes again. Undefeated Leif Larsen and Yakup Saglam were on the wrong end of a decision and knockout respectively at the hands of Solis.
The bout began at a pedestrian pace, Thompson pushing out a slow lethargic jab and Solis looking for the counter overhand right. Thompson took the opening round, which tells the story about Solis’ work rate.
In the second round Solis closed the distance doubling up on the right hand. Odlanier found a home for a couple right hands to the body. Thompson on his part kept up an active work rate — hitting gloves for the most part, but slipping in a couple shots.
Rounds three through five saw Solis put forth an economical output. Looking to counter the Thompson jab, Solis landed some nice lead right hands. Thompson’s meaningless but steady work rate made Solis look pedestrian, remarkable in itself. On the front foot Thompson gave the impression he was making the fight, sending a couple of uppercuts Solis’ way through his guard, and landing some hooks around the gloves.
With round six playing out much the same, Solis went from neutral into first gear briefly. Solis landed some counter jabs and overhand rights on the taller American. As the bell sounded to end the eight round, Solis hit Thompson with a right to the back of the head — the most significant shot of the round.
In round nine Thompson dug a left straight through Solis’ guard and slipped in an uppercut for good measure. Solis in turn momentarily let his hands go, landing a right hand and left downstairs. Solis backed up Thompson with a flurry in the tenth, showing a little urgency in his work. Landing a couple lead left hooks and straight rights, Solis had his best round of the fight.
In the eleventh, Solis threw in spurts, looking for the lead left hook and following up with a right to the body. Thompson answered the bell to the final round with a little zip to his work, administering a stream of jabs with the right behind it and once again having success with the uppercut through Solis’ guard. Solis looked to close the distance and land the right hand. Both men exchanged left hooks in close. Thompson got up on his toes to close out the round.
Solis failed to show any genuine urgency or aggression in any part of the fight, which allowed Thompson to outwork him in a lackluster bout. The judges agreed as the scorecards came in, 115-114, 115-113, 112-116 in favor of Tony Thompson.
Tonight the vacant WBC International title was on the line for whoever emerged with the victory. Putting aside a meaningless title, relevancy was the true prize tonight. Vitali Klitschko’s retirement has finally loosened the Klitschko’s iron grip on the division, and in turn breathed some fresh air on the division.
In the grand scheme of things, Thompson is still off the pace in terms of the contender-ship on the back of this performance, but with this victory, Thompson goes forward with the heels of the front runners in sight. Whether he can once again join that group remains to be seen.
Odlanier Solis career on the other hand hangs in the balance. Solis has all the credentials to be a contender. Odlanier has a decent skill set, and an outstanding amateur pedigree behind him. But as seen with a number of Cuban fighters, he lacks the work rate to truly make the most of his ability.
There had been rumors of a rift in the Solis camp in the build up to this fight. The lack of drive in training camp seemingly frustrating his team. On tonight’s performance, that proved true as Solis lacked any conviction or ambition in his work. A renewed commitment to the sport will be required if he is to once again challenge for a world title.