FightPost Boxer of the Week: Lionell Thompson
By Gary Kittilsen
In what was a unique week of boxing our fighter of the week came from the most unusual of candidates.
Lionell Thompson had amassed a less than spectacular record of just 21-5 and had failed each time he stepped up against a higher level opponent.
Suffering loses to Serbiey Kovalev, Radivoje Kalajdzic and Edwin Rodriguez. He was being used as an opponent for former world champ Jose Uzcategui, a tune-up for the former world champ, an easy touch to rebuild his confidence and get him back in world title contention. Possibly, for a fight with David Benevidez or a rematch with Caleb Plant.
However, the man known as ” Lonnie B” had far different plans, the mostly unheard of 34-year old put on a boxing clinic and pulled the massive upset to take home the unanimous decision as well as our fighter of the week award.
There was a bit of buzz coming from the Mayweather Boxing Club buzz surrounding the unheralded Lionell Thompson, the word was he was looking spectacular and giving a litany of world-class fighters all that they could handle during heated sparring sessions.
That buzz did little to convince anyone that Thompson was going to offer any real resistance, however. Uzcategui entered the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia a massive 10-1 betting favourite. Combine that with the fact that Thompson hadn’t fought at 168lbs before made most think it was going to be an easy night for the former world champ.
It proved to be anything but as Thompson confirmed that he had shown up to pull a major upset. Boxing beautifully and working behind a sharp jab and quick footwork Thompson was holding his own and towards the end of the round a sharp right hand dropped Uzcategui.
Giving the prohibited underdog a 10-8 right in the opening stanza. Uzcategui fought hard putting on the pressure and opening up a cut over the right eye of Thompson that was the result of a ferocious fury of power shots from the former champ. To make matters worse Thompson was surprisingly deducted a point in the fourth, a round he was doing well in, for excessive holding.
He was not discouraged, however, getting back behind his jab Thompson seized control of the fight again in the fifth, making his opponent miss and putting rounds in the bank. Thompson was building up a lead on the cards.
Sensing the fight was slipping away Uzcategui picked up the pace in the eighth and put together his best round in a while. However, Thompson again was able to seize control with his jab and movement in the last two rounds, frustrating Uzcategui and nullifying much of his aggression.
The scorecards reflected the action in the ring and the 10-1 underdog scored the massive upset via UD by scores of 95-94 & 96-92 twice
2019 was a great year for upsets and it was only fitting that we get one more big one on the last major US card of the year as the 34-year-old proved he was more than just an opponent, more than just a tune-up and demonstrated he still had plenty of fight left in him.
The 168-pound division is a fairly stacked division with much of its talent on the PBC side of the promotional street and of all those world title fights that would have been available for Uzcategui are now in play for “Lonnie B”.
Two of the four major belt holders, IBF champ Caleb Plan and WBC kingpin David Benevidez are both on the PBC side. So is former world champ Anthony Dirrell and his comebacking brother former Olympic medalist Andre Dirrell.
At 34 Thompson is going to have to be moved along quickly if he is too get a world title shot, he is however with the right team to make that a realistic possibility for 2020.
Photo Credit: Sean Michael Ham/Mayweather Promotions