Tony Thompson doesn’t mince words concerning the abuse his aging 6-foot-5 body has taken after 45 bouts and nearly 16 years in the heavyweight division.
“Everything hurts. I can barely walk sometimes,” says Thompson, who turned 44 on October 18. “My son will be like, ‘You all right, dad?’ It’s just the aches and pains of the sport of boxing. It is what it is.”
Among Thompson’s various maladies is a bum right knee that he says required surgery even before he was stopped in the 11th round by champion Wladimir Klitschko in July 2008.
The southpaw has had two operations to repair a torn meniscus in the knee and has since fought 12 times, going 9-3 with eight knockouts. Five of those KOs came in succession following the loss to Klitschko, but that streak ended with a second stoppage defeat to Klitschko in July 2012—this one a sixth-round TKO.
Tony Thompson (40-5, 27 KOs) will next step into the ring Friday night opposite 6-foot-4 Malik Scott (37-2-1, 13 KOs) as the headliner of a Premier Boxing Champions card from The Venue at UCF in Orlando, Florida (Bounce TV, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
Given his age and career treadwear, one can’t help but wonder why Thompson continues to lace up the gloves and allow another big man to flail away at his banged-up body. He concedes there’s a very simple reason.
“I do this for the love of my kids and my family,” says Thompson, referring to his wife (and manager) Sydnee and his seven children, who range in age from 14 to 26. “I want them to see that I’m willing to put in the work.
“I take the punishment in order to provide for my kids. I want them to know that anything’s possible, even at this advanced age.”
And Thompson has proven he’ll go anywhere he's asked to provide for his family: When he scored an eighth-round stoppage of 2004 Cuban Olympian Odlanier Solis in Istanbul, Turkey, on February 27, it was Thompson’s seventh consecutive fight on foreign soil dating to the second loss to Klitschko in Switzerland.
The Maryland-born and Washington, D.C.-based Thompson has also done battle in the U.K, Germany and France since his last fight in America, which was in mid-2011 in Reno, Nevada.
“I don’t care what country I’m in or where I’m at, I thrive as the underdog,” Thompson says. “My skill set travels well, and I’ll take them from here to Africa—it doesn’t matter. When the lights come on, I go to work and give it everything I’ve got.”
While Thompson’s “I’ll fight anyone, anywhere, anytime” attitude is certainly admirable, that doesn’t mean he necessarily enjoys traversing the globe to ply his trade. In fact, he’s very much looking forward to remaining in his own time zone when he fights the 35-year-old Scott in Orlando.
“You’ve seen me go into other guys’ backyards and demoralize them more than once, but a lot of people don’t realize that I loathe flying,” Thompson says. “I’m so glad to finally be fighting on American soil.
“I actually want to drive to the fight in Florida, but my wife won’t let me. I would rather drive 10 hours than fly one hour, because I thoroughly hate flying.”
For complete coverage of Thompson vs Scott, check out our fight page.