Vincent Thompson squanders big opportunity to rise in boxing ranks
By Bob Sims
Federal Way's "Vicious" Vincent Thompson's shot at the big time turned sour Saturday night in distant Bethlehem, Pa.
Travis "My Time" Kauffman, a native Pennsylvanian, dampened the dream.
The heavy-hitting, 6-foot-3, 237-pound Kauffman defeated Thompson by unanimous decision in the 10-round main event at the Sands Bethlehem, securing the previously vacant WBA Fedelatin heavyweight title before a raucous crowd rooting on their favorite son.
"I think they were shocked and surprised I pushed his ass 10 rounds and didn't get knocked out," said Vince Thompson by phone Monday. "He's known to knock people out early on his home turf."
Thompson said he was taken aback by the level of rancor and epithets directed at him by fans at the venue, even by children.
"I proved a world-class heavyweight couldn't knock me out in his own house," said Thompson, who took the fight on short notice, despite the odds.
Thompson, throughout his short career, has said he will take on anyone, any time.
The judges scored the fight 100-90, 100-90 and 98-92.
Kauffman, of Reading, Pa., improved to 28-1 (20 KOs), while Thompson, 234, dropped to 13-2 (2 KOs).
"It was Kauffman's 10th straight win and put him squarely in the hunt for the vacant WBA title. He is among a stellar group of up-and-coming young American fighters including Bryant Jennings (18-0, 10 KOs) and Deontay Wilder (30-0, 30 KOs) pursuing the big prize. Kauffman, 28, is currently ranked ninth in the WBA.
"I knew it would be a tough fight for Vince after being offered the the bout on 35-day notice," said Calvin Thompson, Jr., Vincent Thompson's father and trainer.. "Travis Kauffman is Vince's best opponent to date. (Now) it's back to the drawing board," Thompson of Federal Way said.
He said his son might have to travel to Los Angeles, or eastward, to find quality sparring partners to push him regularly in training and make him a better fighter.
Kauffman, for instance, trained with Bryant Jennings, the WBA's fourth-ranked fighter, to get ready for Thompson. Jennings beat Poland's previously undefeated Artur Szpilka (16-0, 12 KOs) on a 10th-round TKO at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Saturday night.
"There are a lack of sparring partners here in the Pacific Northwest," Thompson said.
Thompson got in sporadic work with local fighters Jonte "Rock Steady" Willis (9-8, 3 KOs) of Tacoma and Sylvester "Doc" Barron (8-3, 2 KOs) of Anacortes, but it wasn't enough preparation for a fighter of Kauffman's caliber, his dad said.
In this fight, as has been the case in his other two fights over the past year, Vincent chose not let his hands go and trust in his speed.
"Vince just did not stick to the game plan, which was to take his time and showcase his hand and foot speed -- and keep the fight in the middle of the ring and stay off the ropes," coach Thompson said.
He said he told his son "to counterpunch and stick and move and beat this guy on points."
"(Instead) Vincent allowed Kauffman to take him to the ropes where Kauffman would load up and unleash hard powerful punches, most of which were blocked by Vince," Thompson added.
"Vince had his moments, where he did showcase his speed, but there were not enough of them."
In Vince's defense, his dad said Kauffman was able to rabbit punch to the back of the head and throw blows to the ribs illegally coming off the clinches.
Blair Talmadge was the referee for the fight.
Bill McDonald of Everett substituted for Vince's regular cut-man and coach Sam Ditusa of Normandy Park. McDonald manages and trains Willis and Barron. Thompson is also coached by Jack Stafford of Renton. Stafford is a West Seattle High graduate.