Dan Rafael: Ahmet Oner

Thompson, Solis set for rematch

August, 21, 2014
Aug 21
On March 22, veteran heavyweight contender Tony Thompson pulled an upset when he outpointed Odlanier Solis by split decision in Turkey, the home country of Solis promoter Ahmet Oner, whose considerable juice there obviously didn't help his man get the nod on the scorecards.

[+] EnlargeTony Thompson
Alex Livesey/Getty ImagesVeteran heavyweight Tony Thompson will look for his second straight victory over former Cuban Olympic gold medalist Odlanier Solis.
Thompson (39-5, 26 KOs), 42, of Washington, D.C. -- who has twice been knocked out in challenging champion Wladimir Klitschko -- lost his next fight in France to Carlos Takam, who has emerged as a solid contender himself in the past year.

Solis, 34, the former Olympic gold medalist from Cuba who now lives in Miami, has not fought since the defeat but will face Thompson in a rematch in October, Oner announced this week.

"The contracts are signed, we're ready to go," Oner said. "Now Solis has to show what he's made of. I am sure that he can beat Thompson. But their first bout showed that he needs the right attitude and a lot of stamina to do so. This is the last chance for both men. It's do or die. After beating Solis, Thompson lost to Carlos Takam. Still, both men are rated in the WBC top 15, so the winner can move up the ratings and get in line for another world title shot. The loser should probably just retire."

Solis (20-2, 13 KOs) lost his only world title shot, blowing out his knee, which caused a first-round knockout loss to then-titlist Vitali Klitschko in 2011. After a lengthy layoff because of surgery, Solis won three fights in a row before the loss to Thompson.

The exact date is not set yet. Thompson adviser Mike Borao told ESPN.com that the contract states the fight will be Oct. 11, but it might shift to Oct. 26.

"Ahmet has been pretty easy to work with, so we're being flexible," Borao said. "One thing about Tony, he accepts everything without complaint."

Thompson, who twice knocked out David Price in upsets in 2013 but then lost a decision to Kubrat Pulev with a mandatory shot at Klitschko at stake in August 2013, is looking forward to the rematch.

"Solis is a gold medalist with a great record, so I am not looking past him," Thompson said. "I beat him once and I'll do it again, only this time I am knocking him out. Nothing is going to stop me from my mission of winning a world title."

Solis, Thompson need wins

March, 19, 2014
Mar 19
It seems there is finally some movement in the heavyweight division as the contenders are facing each other.

Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola will square off in a May 10 rematch for a vacant title. Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora are fighting a rematch on July 26, with the winner ticketed for a mandatory shot against champ Wladimir Klitschko. Czar Glazkov outpointed Tomasz Adamek in a highly entertaining fight on Saturday night. And a fight between unbeaten up-and-comers Bryant Jennings and Mike Perez is in discussions.

There is yet another heavyweight fight on the schedule, pitting two of the better big men in the division.

Former title challenger Odlanier Solis, a 2004 Olympian for Cuba who has since defected, and two-time challenger Tony Thompson of Washington, D.C., will square off Saturday in Tekirdag, Turkey -- the country where Solis' promoter, Ahmet Oner, is from. Solis turned pro in 2007 and lives in Miami.

Solis, 33, and Thompson, 42, are both aiming to put themselves back into the title picture.

Solis (20-1, 13 KOs) suffered a first-round knockout loss to then-titlist Vitali Klitschko when Solis’ knee gave out in their 2011 title fight. After multiple surgeries on his knee, Solis has won three in a row.

Thompson (38-4, 26 KOs) got mandatory title shots against Wladimir Klitschko in 2008 and 2012 and was knocked out both times. But Thompson scored two big wins last year by knocking out British hope David Price in two upsets.

Thompson lost a decision to Kubrat Pulev in his last fight in August, which was an eliminator to become Wladimir’s mandatory.

Solis and Thompson both really need to win Saturday to keep themselves on the fringes of landing a big fight.

“This is a do-or-die fight. If Solis beats Thompson, I will lead him to another world title fight. But if he loses, it might be all over,” Oner said.

Said Solis, “Tony Thompson doesn't know what's coming for him. My only goal is to become heavyweight champion of the world. And I won't let anybody stop me on my way."