SLIDESHOW: Unbeaten "Vicious" Vincent Thompson pummels Takehara for ninth win
TACOMA -- One of the best qualities Vincent Thompson's trainers like about him is his ability to improve after each fight and show them something better and different in the next one.
The undefeated Federal Way boxer did not disappoint, dispatching Masataka Takehara easily in eight rounds in a unanimous decision in the Battle of the Boat 83 main event Saturday, Aug. 27, at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma. Thompson looked polished, confident and effective, more so than at any time in his career so far.
Thompson's crisp, punishing jab was the story of the night, keeping the powerful but plodding Takehara (6-5-3, 2 KOs) frustrated, and at bay. If Thompson wasn't firing off his point-scoring jabs, he was using his adept, much-improved footwork to stay out of the harm's way or punching his way out of clinches with flurries of combination hooks and uppercuts.
It left Takehara off-balance and ineffective in trying to press the action through the course of the fight.
"Thompson is a very good, young fighter, very clever," said Takehara, who is Japan's top heavyweight. "His (hand and foot) speed were good. His clinch technique was good. He has no power."
Thompson (9-0, 2 KOs) sparred with newly crowned WBA heavyweight champ Alexander Povetkin (22-0, 15 KOs) and trained with Teddy Atlas a couple of weeks ago in Moscow, no doubt helping him figure out Takehara, a similar orthodox fighter.
"I just kept sticking and side-stepping to his right because a lot of orthodox fighters want to hit me with that big right hand and get me out of there," Thompson said. "He charged a lot and hit me hard a couple of times with some uppercuts and a straight right, but I tried to avoid his power punches at all costs."
The 240-pound Takehara's strategy to wrap Thompson up in clinches and work inside mostly failed. To get free, Thompson used a "swim move," similar to a defensive end shedding an offensive tackle's block in football. Thompson would simply use his forearms to lift Masetaka's arms up and punch his way out of the clinch.
"No way was he going to hold me where I can get one off," said Thompson, who played linebacker in high school.
Thompson said sparring with Povetkin gave him confidence going into this fight.
"Povetkin put a lot of pressure (punch combinations) on me and I was thinking man I gotta get out of here (out of Povetkin's range)," he said. "I had to slip and do what I do, but I was still on him."
Thompson, who looked fit and trim at 235 pounds, also said Povetkin's trainer Teddy Atlas gave him some valuable advice.
"Teddy Atlas gave me the keys to the door, something I was waiting to hear," Thompson said.
"He told me 'a lot of fighters are going to put pressure on me, but it will only last a moment, so don't think it's going to last minutes.'"
Thompson's coach and cut-man Sam Ditusa noticed the positive changes in his fighter against Takehara.
"He wasn't going straight back across the ring like in the past, said Ditusa, a Normandy Park resident and a Seattle policeman who works the Ballard beat." He was moving side-to-side, turning and popping his jab.
"He's coming along. He could still go to the body more, sit down and throw harder. His speed and quickness are there. We just need to get a little power in there. Then we'll have the total package."
Thompson is also coached by his father Calvin, of Federal Way, and West Seattle-raised Jack Stafford, Jr., of Renton.
Next up for Thompson is a match against Tacoma heavyweight Jonte Willis (8-1, 3 KOs) in the Battle of the Boat 84 on Nov. 5.
"It's a grudge match between two guys who need to fight each other," Ditusa said.
For Thompson, the fight is just another step in the road to a heavyweight title.
"He (Willis) knows he's in for a challenge, except for the guy who knocked him out," Thompson said. "We're going to give him another loss."
After the fight with Takehara, Thompson said: "I thank God first and foremost. I'm a Christian man. I thank him for the victory."
There were five other fights on the entertaining, competitive Battle of the Boat 83 card: Cruiserweight Tommy Davis beat Jose Rico on a second-round TKO; Welterweight Randell Corpuz defeated Nolo Leal in a unanimous decision; Super middleweight Mike Gavronski remained unbeaten at 3-0 with a fourth-round KO of Darren Anzai; Light welterweight Aaron Schupp and Edgar Zubia battled to a draw; and light welterweight Oscar Andrade remains undefeated at 7-0 with a unanimous decision over Michael Lucero.