CARL THOMPSON is on time. Old habits die hard, especially those which brought success. Be on time, give your all, and believe. I’m late. Manchester’s Friday afternoon traffic turning a 20-minute trip around the M60 ring-road into an hour-long slog.
Thompson has trimmed down since his fighting days finished 14 years ago but the former WBO cruiserweight champion is still instantly recognisable as he patrols the car park of a Bolton gym, waiting for me to arrive. “You ok, mate?” Thompson said as we made our way inside. “I’m not training professionals at the moment, you know. I’m not sure how interesting I am.”
Thompson could be as ruthless as he was vulnerable. He could appear both immovable and fragile. He would teeter on the brink of disaster but emerge in triumph. And all of this could happen within the same three-minute round. I first met Thompson five years ago and have always found it difficult to square the man I have got to know with the boxer who was involved in some of the most brutal and dramatic fights in British boxing history.