Tony "The Tiger" Thompson is staying alive at age 42, as the American heavyweight went on the road today in Turkey to beat Odlanier Solis by split decision scores of 115-114, 115-113, and 112-116. BLH had it 116-112 for Thompson, who controlled much of the fight against the frankly lazy Solis, who put in another disappointing performance that more or less sums up his entire pro career.
The WBC's open scoring practice was in effect in Istanbul, though it was a bit curious. After four rounds, scores were announced as 40-36, 39-37, and 39-37, all for Solis. After eight rounds, scores were 77-75 twice for Thompson, and 78-74 for Solis. Either the scores were announced wrong the first time, or there was neither rhyme nor reason to how the judges saw the first eight rounds. Either one is plausible.
Thompson (40-4, 26 KO) picked up the WBC's International title, meaning he might be able to get himself into that already-crowded title picture. With the WBC's full title currently vacant and set to be decided on May 10 between Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola, there's already a mandatory challenger waiting in the wings in Deontay Wilder, and the WBC recently ordered an eliminator between Bryant Jennings and Mike Perez.
In theory, you'd have the Stiverne-Arreola winner face Wilder, then the Stiverne/Arreola-Wilder winner facing Jennings/Perez, and then maybe if Thompson is still around, he could work his way into a title fight.
For Solis (20-2, 13 KO), it's another flop, and at 33, it's probably time to consider a possible title run for the celebrated Cuban amateur an upset if it ever happens. He's rarely been particularly impressive in victory, and he's lost to both of his best opponents, once because he injured his knee in the first round against Vitali Klitschko, and now this performance against Thompson.
When Solis turned pro in 2007, big things were expected. There is still a decent argument that purely talking about ability and skills, Solis is one of the best heavyweights in the world. But he's never seemed to take his career all that seriously, and the motivation just doesn't seem to be there for him. He can box -- frankly, there's no good reason that he should have lost this fight. He's just never really executed up to his ability, perhaps never really near it. It has happened before and will happen again, but it's a shame that such talent has been wasted. It was a wide open heavyweight division, one where Solis could have done some damage if he'd just cared enough.
Thompson, on the other hand, continues to get the most out of his ability, and that's why he remains a contender. He's got losses to Wladimir Klitschko (twice) and Kubrat Pulev during his relevant career, but we're talking about probably the two best heavyweights in the world right now. Effort and work ethic: it's why Thompson is still in it after today, and why Solis might as well be counted out.