by Mark Mayer | It has been awhile since we’ve seen Wladimir Klitschko fight so HBO is giving us to two chances Saturday to watch him. Klitschko, the heavyweight champ in three organizations (WBO, IBF, IBO) puts his belts on the line against Tony "The Tiger" Thompson at 4 p.m. PT from Hamburg, Germany. Klitschko has the best credentials among the smorgasbord of heavyweight contenders with a 50-3 record and 44 knockouts. Among his wins include Chris Byrd (twice), Samuel Peter, Lamon Brewster, Jameel McCline, Monte Barrett and Sultan Ibragimov.
Thompson, at age 37 and a late starter in the sport, has nonetheless compiled an impressive 31-1 record with 19 KO’s. The American has not really beaten a quality opponent, but at +450 is a live betting underdog to at least threaten Klitschko, according to GT’s Hall of Fame boxing analyst Michael Katz. Thompson, a southpaw, has not fought since a two-round cupcake last September.
Klitschko, at 32, has the relative homecourt advantage coming from Russia. The champion does have a history of getting hit and being hurt. In his win over Peter, he was dropped three times before escaping with a decision. Klitschko was also sent to the canvas in past bouts with Brewster and Corrie Sanders.
Caesars Palace opened Klitschko as a -650 favorite and the price has held firm. There is also a prop bet on the number of rounds the fight (scheduled for 12) will last. The under 9 is -180. If the fight reaches the 10th round, the payoff would be +150. If you can’t catch the event live, HBO will replay the bout at 10 p.m. PT.