Timing is right for Thompson’s first title shot
Sergio Thompson lands a right on Carlos Claudio during their junior lightweight bout last September in Las Vegas, Nevada. Thompson stopped Claudio in the second round.
Sergio Thompson’s main claim to fame as a prize fighter is a second-round stoppage of two-division beltholder Jorge Linares last March.
The 29-year-old puncher shocked Linares and the boxing world by surviving a wobbly moment to drop the ballyhooed Venezuelan in the second round. Thompson, who was fighting in his adopted hometown of Cancun, Mexico, produced a bad cut over Linares’ left eye, which caused the ringside physician to stop the bout near the end of the second round.
Linares claimed Thompson was aided by biased hometown officials, and while some fans brushed those claims off as sour grapes, many believe that Thompson’s victory was more a product of timing than talent.
Linares, who entered the Thompson bout with a 31-2 record, had suffered a bloody 11th-round stoppage to Antonio DeMarco in his previous fight in September 2011. The common thought is that Linares’ face, which was cut to ribbons in the DeMarco fight, as well as his confidence, had not yet healed.
Thompson (27-2, 25 knockouts), a happy go lucky sort, laughs at the folks who doubt the Linares victory.
If the Linares upset was the result of good timing, Thompson believes he’s about to get lucky again with his first shot at a major title – the WBC 130-pound belt held by Japanese southpaw Takashi Miura – tonight in Cancun. The bout headlines a Fox Deportes-televised card.
“The Linares fight was an opportunity that I made the most of, and this title shot is an opportunity that I will make the most of because it comes at the best time of my life,” Thompson told RingTV.com with some translation assistance from conditioning coach Luis Garcia following a training session in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., last Saturday. “I’ve had the best training and preparation of my career going into this fight.”
For his last two bouts, Thompson has trained with Clemente Medina, a veteran Los Angeles-based trainer best known for his work with three-division titleholder Abner Mares. Thompson says the Southern California training camps have brought out the best of his abilities.
“My power has never been better, my timing and my technique has never been sharper, my combinations are better than ever,” Thompson said. “I’m a lot stronger thanks to Luis. I’ve only had positive results with my new coaches.”
Still, Miura (25-2-2, 19 KOs), who is also 29, appears to be the more seasoned of the two junior lightweights. The Tokyo-based veteran turned heads in the boxing world by battering Gamaliel Diaz to a ninth-round stoppage in April, dropping the well-traveled defending titleholder four times along the way.
Prior to his title win, Miura gave WBA champ Takashi Uchiyama a tough fight before being stopped after eight rounds, dropping THE RING’s No. 1-rated junior lightweight in the third round.
Apart from Linares, the only notable fighter on Thompson’s record is then-undefeated (20-0) Alisher Rahimov, who outpointed him in Cancun in September 2010. He also has a 2009 decision loss to journeyman Azael Gonzalez.
However, Thompson, who turned pro at age 20 (“an old man over there in Mexico,” he jokes), says those losses were merely learning experiences for late starter who only had five amateur bouts.
“There was no boxing in my hometown, Chetumal, which is about three hours from Cancun,” he said. “My uncle got me started in boxing. He found a Cuban trainer, Adrien Nunez, who was based in Cancun to train me, but we had to travel there for any fights.
“One of my bouts was against the Cancun amateur champ. I knocked him out in the first round. That got the attention of Pepe Gomez, the main professional promoter in Cancun, who signed me.”
Thompson got his start in Cancun, where he’s fought 14 times, but his boxing education came in Mexico City, where he trained for six years. Four of those years were under the tutelage of the late Rudy Perez, the diminutive coach who developed Marco Antonio Barrera into a future hall of famer.
Thompson, who turned pro at featherweight, was part of Barrera’s training camps during those years. He never sparred with Barrera, but he worked with Perez’s two featherweight standouts, former titleholders Guty Espadas Jr. and Rudy Lopez.
“I was the official sparring partner for those two,” Thompson said.
He’s not a sparring partner anymore.
“Miura is very strong and he’s got a good left hand,” Thompson said. “He’s a champion and I respect that, but I’ve come a long way since Mexico City. I’ve come a long way since the Linares fight, too.
“I’ll be happy to give him a rematch and show him after this fight.”
Photos / Jeff Bottari-Golden Boy, Nick Laham-Golden Boy