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My Night: Carl ‘The Cat’ Thompson cashes in one of his nine lives in France

Carl Thompson
Action Images
Carl Thompson describes the night he won the European title to prove the doubters wrong for the first time

I’VE had so many memorable fights it is hard to pinpoint one but I suppose the fight that stands out was my European title defence against Akim Tafer. Basically, no one gave me much of a chance, it was in France, there was no [English] press there and no one there with me apart from my trainer Billy Graham and [manager] Nat Basso.

I trained hard, I always did. I was in my peak shape for Massimiliano Duran [the fight before, when he won the European belt in Italy] – that’s the only time I thought, ‘My word, am I in good shape?’ But I trained hard for every one of my fights and I was ready for Tafer.

I was over there about five days before the fight and they treated us very well. By the time we had got there I had got the weight down and it was basically just a matter of walking [to stay loose] and eating, because I had done everything I needed to do. I had done everything right so I could have four or five days without doing anything.

Tafer was a good fighter, a gifted boxer, throwing punches from every angle. I remember going back to my corner after a couple of rounds hoping I did not embarrass myself in case I couldn’t do it. God must have been with me that night. I don’t know how my chin took those punches – I just thought it would stand up to everything he threw at me. It did, and I don’t think he could believe it and then he realised I wasn’t going anywhere.

I pulled off a big upset. I knocked him down in the fifth round and stopped him in the sixth.

It was one of the hardest fights, if not the hardest fight, I had. He was really battering me up on the ropes but I managed to hang in there and finish him off.

I got pushed down twice and because no one had any coverage of the fight they said I got knocked down. But I knocked him down twice. When you’re by yourself in someone’s backyard and you manage to win, it feels great. Afterwards I screamed with delight and I had never done that before or since. That’s how good it felt.

The atmosphere wasn’t too bad, actually. It was not hostile. I couldn’t really believe it because after the fight the French fans wanted autographs. I got more attention over there than when I got back home.

Carl Thompson
Action Images/Andrew Budd

After the fight they had a banquet ready for Tafer because they thought he was going to win, but I went instead of him and was there eating up all the food.

I suppose having the fight over there made it a bit more special. Over here journalists couldn’t even get the story right so I never really got the credit I deserved for that fight, maybe because people didn’t know I’d never had an amateur fight and turned pro only at 26. I became a three-time ‘world’ champion yet was never recognised as a credible fighter over here. I achieved winning all of the belts but financially I didn’t achieve as much as only a few world champions, like Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe, do.

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  • Take my hat of to you carl, never knew you never had a Amateur fight, you always gave your all, and I am sure all your opponents had a bit of fear knowing they would be fighting you, always great to watch🥊🥊🥊

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