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Tony Thompson vs. Friday Ahunanya Fight Preview and Prediction

by Scotty L of

When: Saturday, June 19, 2010
Where: Oracle Arena in Oakland, California
Weight Class: Heavyweights: 10 Rounds

Tony Thompson, 34-2 (22 KOs), Washington, D.C. Vs. Friday Ahunanya, 24-6-3 (13 KOs), Nigeria/Las Vegas, Nevada

Fight Odds: Tony Thompson (-1400), Friday Ahunanya (+700)
Over /Under: OFF

Analysis: A nice heavyweight matchup takes place on the undercard of Ward-Green on Saturday, as top rated Tony Thompson takes on tough veteran Friday Ahunanya. Thompson is an enigma. A big, crafty southpaw, Thompson performed fairly well in a losing bid against champion Wladimir Klitschko almost 2 years ago. Maybe our expectations are low, being that Klitschko has barely lost a round in recent performances. Nevertheless, Thompson landed more punches than any other recent challengers and was not an easy night’s work for the champion.

Since then, he has scored 3 wins, including a knockout of decent prospect Chazz Witherspoon. In Ahunanya, he faces a dangerous fighter. The Nigerian-born Las Vegas native has been around for a long time. Those in the know have long hailed him as a diamond in the rough, the kind of fighter who may have had a better career if he was guided more thoughtfully. Case in point: After scoring consecutive upsets against 19-0 Shane Cameron and 26-0-1 Alonzo Butler, he was on the shelf for an astonishing 21 months before being thrown in against fearsome David Tua in his last fight.

Some might remember Ahunanya coming up in the late-1990’s and early 2000’s with his many TV appearances. He was raw, but entertaining. He beat some good fighters, lost to some, and basically faded away. He worked as a sparring partner for some better-known fighters, such as Mike Tyson. From 2004-2006, he had a five-fight winless streak and it seemed he had hit the end. Then he sprang back with a few good wins, disappeared, and resurfaced against Tua. He deserves credit for going the full ten with Tua without suffering too many ill effects. Tua has been really tearing through people lately and Ahunanya’s tough stand is evidence that, at 38, he still takes great pride in his boxing.

Thompson is somewhat dull. You have a 6’5” American heavyweight with one loss in a decade (against the best in the world) and he has generated almost zero interest. Without a lot of buzz in his career, he has been unable to lure many attractive opponents into fighting him. Who wants to fight a big, skilled southpaw anyway? The best he has beaten include Dominick Guinn, Luan Krasniqi, and Witherspoon. It’s not an illustrious list, and at 38, time is running out. He might be the best heavyweight in the States, but he needs to create some heat. He could try to milk a rating and force another title shot, but at his age it might be wiser to force the issue a bit.

Thompson obviously is having trouble getting the opponents he wants. This matchup attests to the type of high risk/ low reward fights that are available to him. If he beats Ahunanya, he will receive almost zero credit. At the same time, he still has to perform against a capable and experienced opponent. Ahunanya is a spoiler. He can punch a guy’s lights out when the stars are lined up right. He’s not an easy opponent.

Scotty Pick to Win: Thompson should win. He’s not –1400 because he should lose this fight. Ahunanya at +700 offers some value. He’s proven capable of springing upsets. Thompson could grow old overnight and it’s not as if he ever set the world on fire in the first place.

I think the best bet on this fight will be the over. This just has decision written all over it. We have two older guys here who have one stoppage loss each spread out over combined 69 fights and 23 years in the ring. But it’s beyond the stats. These guys are known for spending long stretches of fights in pedestrian mode. Ahunanya will find it hard to penetrate Thompson’s reach and defense. Thompson will also be respectful of Ahunanya, therefore unable to lash out with impunity in fear of reprisals.

The odds for the over/under have not been released yet, but I’m sure the over will be favored and set for a high number of rounds. If you can get over for anywhere in the –250 neighborhood, I’d say go for it. Take the over.

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