There was a tangible air of respect at this week's head-to-head press conference to promote Friday night's IBO cruiserweight title clash between Carl Thompson and undefeated challenger David Haye at Wembley Arena. The battle between two of the cruiserweight division's biggest punchers has got everyone talking and both combatants were under no illusions about the strength of their heavy-hitting adversary.
“I've watched Carl for years,” said the undefeated Haye, 10-0 (10). “I am a big fan of his, my whole family is. When I got the opportunity to fight him, I took it straight away. I don't feel I need another 10 or 15 fights before I fight someone as dangerous as Carl. I know the dangers. I know if I make any mistakes and, he lands one of his knockout punches, I will be unconscious, there's no query about that. He's one of the biggest cruiserweight punchers in the world, if not the biggest cruiserweight puncher in the world. That's what makes me excited, getting in the ring with someone who can take me out at any opportunity. So I've got to bring the best out of myself and I want my back against the wall. I want to get in the ring with someone who I know could beat me. Carl's the ideal opponent for that danger. At any point Carl can knock you out and that's why I've got a lot of respect for him. I've trained harder than I've ever trained for a fight and I'm ready for 12 hard rounds. I feel I am ready for the best cruiserweights – Jean Marc Mormeck, Kelvin Davis, Wayne Braithwaite and O'Neill Bell – right now, so why hang round?”
“He reminds me a bit of myself,” said IBO champion Thompson, 32-6 (24). “He's got a true heart and he comes fight and comes to win. I'm sure David Haye hasn't taken me for granted. Believe me, this isn't an old guy. I give David full respect. I'm sure everyone knows what kind of fight it's going to be. It's going to be hard and we know the fight's not going to go all the way. So may the best man win and pray to God all be safe at the end of the day. I don't believe in giving up. That's why if I'm behind going into the 11th or 12th round, I still believe I can win. If I didn't think I could beat David Haye, I wouldn't bother fighting him. I'm very lucky to be one of these people who can continue (with their career). Everyone knows that I'm not the greatest boxer. I never claimed to be. But, I tell you one thing, (with my punch) I believe I have a 50-50 chance with any of the world's best cruiserweights.”
Tickets: Wembley Box Office credit card hotline 0870 060 0870 or 020 8445 7864. Doors open 6.15pm, first bell 6.30pm.