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Tributes flow for Aussie boxing hero Hector Thompson

Anthony Cocks

Australian-based boxing journalist Anthony Cocks has been covering the sport for over 15 years for various print and online publications. He refuses to believe that Roberto Duran ever lost to Tommy Hearns and says that Jeff Fenech would destroy Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on the same night.

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Tributes are flowing for Australian two-time world title challenger Hector Thompson who passed away this week at the age of 70.

Born in Kempsey, NSW in 1949, Thompson became a mainstay at Brisbane’s Festival Hall in the 1970s where he fought 31 of his 87 professional contests.

In 1973 Thompson claimed the Commonwealth junior welterweight title from Ghanaian Joe Tetteh over 15 rounds, leading to a shot at WBA lightweight champion Roberto Duran in Panama.

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Despite losing by eighth-round stoppage, Thompson gave the all-time great a gruelling fight.

“Duran floored Thompson for the first time in the fight in the 3rd round with a hard left to the body, but Thompson got to his feet immediately and waited for the count of eight,” United Press International reported at the time.

“From then on Thompson put up a strong fight, exchanging flurries of hard punches from short distances with the aggressive champion. Thompson’s blows caused a noticeable swelling of Duran’s left eye in the 4th round.

“The champion looked a little tired by the 6th round and it was Thompson who landed the majority of the telling blows in that round. The Australian kept poking at Duran’s eye in the 7th and it was easily his best round of the night.

“Duran knocked Thompson to the canvas twice in the 8th round after causing Thompson’s nose to bleed profusely. Panamanian referee Nicasio Drake halted the fight after the second fall, awarding Duran the TKO.”

Two years later Thompson would return to Panama City to challenge Antonio Cervantes for the WBA junior welterweight championship.

Thompson suffered a cut to his eye from a Cervantes uppercut in the seventh and his corner would not allow him to come out for the eighth.

“Hector Thompson is one of Australian boxing’s true champions and a credit to the sport,” said Hall of Fame trainer Johnny Lewis to Fightnews.

“I thought his body punching was the best of any Australian fighter that I have seen. All modern Australian fighters owe Hector a great deal and should thank him for lifting the sport and carrying it through the doldrums.”

Phil Cooke, from the Queensland Boxing Hall of Fame, lamented his long-time friend’s death.

“Hector was one of the most exciting fighters this country has produced,’’ Cooke said to The Australian.

“He rose from very humble beginnings to become one of the most admired sportsmen in the country in the 1970s. He packed out Festival Hall in some huge fights. It’s a very sad day for the sport.’’

Thompson, who retired in 1980 with a record of 73-12-2 (27) after 10 years in the pro ranks, was inducted into the Australian National Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005.

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