Vincent Thompson returns to ring after long layoff
By Bob Sims
It has been an eventful past seven months in the world of sports.
The Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl, the Chicago Blackhawks took the Stanley Cup, the Miami Heat are NBA champs, and the Seattle Mariners are finishing up yet another losing season.
To the chagrin of many Pacific Northwest pro boxing fans, however, seven months is the length of time they've been hoping to see undefeated Federal Way heavyweight "Vicious" Vincent Thompson's return to the ring.
The wait is over.
Thompson, who has had difficulty drawing quality opponents because of his southpaw style, will face another unbeaten left-handed fighter, Charles Martin, 27, of Los Angeles, in a six-round fight on Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Skookum Events Center in Shelton.
"It's good to be back in the ring, said Thompson by phone today. "It's been a rough, frustrating year."
Some boxing pundits call Thompson, 30, one of the most avoided heavyweights in the game today. Thompson, for instance, was sent home early last summer after two days of sparring with heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko at his training camp in Austria. Apparently Klitschko wanted no part of Thompson's punishing counter punches from the southpaw side.
"It's been hit or miss," Thompson said of trying to get a fight with a good foe. "I'm going like, wow, should I do this, should I do that, should I get another job? This is how I provide food for my family, how I make my living.
"A lot of people, my true fans, want to see me fight, see me get down," said Thompson. "I want to provide that. I appreciate the support."
The bout is part of a five-fight card as part of Roy Englebrecht Promotions Fight Club series at the Little Creek Casino Resort.
The main event features the return of former IBO heavyweight champ Tim "The Hebrew Hammer" Puller, 44, who will square off against Yohan Banks (6-8, 4 KOs). The 6-foot-6 Puller (20-6, 11 KOs) hasn't fought in 13 years. The biggest win of his career was against James "Quick" Tillis in 1999. His other opponents have included Chris Byrd, Tim Witherspoon and Lou Savarese.
Thompson (13-0, 2 KOs), meanwhile, scored a surprisingly difficult six-round unanimous decision over former MMA fighter Geovanni Sarran (4-6, 1 KO) on Feb. 23, in his only fight this year.
Though ring rust can be a factor after such a long layoff, his coach and cut-man, Sam Ditusa of Normandy Park, said he is not overly concerned.
"Vince is prepared for the lefty," he said. "When Vince is right, he can surprise you, and he has a way of rising to the occasion."
Thompson said he looks at ring rust this way: "If my boxing skills are up to par that day, then they are up to par. If not, then we can talk about ring rust."
Martin (9-0-1, 8 KOs) has been the far more active than Thompson in 2013, winning six of his seven fights, one of which was a draw.
"Vince is facing a big strong hard puncher who is going to come after him," Ditusa said. "The strategy will be to make the fight slower-paced where Vince picks his spots to score and then slows the action.
"He needs to be first (score with the jab) all night against this guy. If he uses his speed and is first, he has a good chance."
Both fighters are ranked among the top 50 heavyweights in the U.S., by BoxRec. Thompson is 35th and Martin 50th.
Thompson has been training at Vision Quest in Auburn and various gyms in the Seattle area.
"My dad (coach Calvin Thompson of Federal Way) has had me working on my jab, making it real, real strong and crisp."
One of the more intriguing match-ups of the night will be between unbeaten Tacoman Mike Gavronski (12-0-1, 8 KOs) and Tristan Todd (8-3, 5 KOs) in an eight-round fight for the Pacific Northwest Middleweight Championship. Gavronski is the 26th-ranked middleweight on BoxRec.
"Mike has progressed better than anyone I have had in recent memory," said Ditusa, who is Gavronski's manager and trainer. "He is a very hard worker and a tough guy. I am very pleased where we are at and this is a tough test for the GBO belt against a very skilled and tough kid."
Other bouts include a cruiserweight four-rounder between four-time Tacoma Golden Gloves champion Marquise Weston (1-0) and Richard Ballard (pro debut) of Los Angeles, and a four-round light-heavyweight bout between always-entertaining Eric Dahlberg (2-0, 1 KO), who likes to brawl, and Elliott Lemon (1-1) of Long Beach, Calif.
Ticket prices for the show are $50 (first two front rows), $40 (floor) and $30 (bleachers. Tickets can be obtained by calling 1-800-667-7711, or visiting www.little-creek.com. Little Creek Casino is located at 91 W State Route 108, Shelton, Wa., 98684.