Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Tony Thompson will encounter his share of problems on Saturday.
The punishing jab, straight right hand and follow-up left hook of universally recognized heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko spring immediately to mind, in fact, as potential causes of distress.
But confidence won't be an issue.
"I'm going to knock his head off his shoulders, separate him from his senses and win the championship of the world," the 36-year-old soon-to-be challenger- to-be said, in a FitzHitz interview.
Confidence won't be an issue for Tony Thompson.
Perhaps more jarring than the prediction, though, was its matter-of-fact delivery.
As if it came from an executive planning a business trip. Not a heavy underdog in a title fight.
"The referee will raise my hand," he said. "I'll either hit him until he goes down or until the referee tells me to stop, whichever comes first. But either way, it will happen. I will win the fight."
A ninth-year pro from the suburbs of Washington, D.C., Thompson took the scenic route to his first crack at the sport's biggest prize, toiling in towns like Elizabeth, Ind., Pikesville, Md., Niagara Falls, Ont. and Verona, NY before finally playing the main stage in San Jose, Calif. in mid-2006.
He defeated one-time prospect Dominick Guinn there for the WBC's Continental Americas belt -- in his 29th pro fight -- then followed up with wins over Timor Ibragimov, Luan Kraniqi and Cliff Couser to clinch the shot at Klitschko's WBO and IBF title belts.
And he claims to have known it was coming all along.
"I always had faith in myself. I'm a glass half-full kind of guy. And I thought it was just a question of when the system was going to let me break through and show my talent," he said. "I knew I was never going to let the system beat me. And if I kept winning they were going to have to give me a shot."
For Klitschko, it's the fifth defense of a belt collection he began compiling with a violent seventh-round TKO of IBF champion Chris Byrd in April 2006.
He stopped challengers Calvin Brock, Ray Austin and Lamon Brewster in a combined 15 rounds over the subsequent 15 months, and then added the WBO title with a wide points victory over Sultan Ibragimov in February at Madison Square Garden.
Defense No. 5 is set for Color Line Arena in Hamburg, Germany, and will be broadcast live by HBO on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. PT.
Overall, the 32-year-old has won eight straight since an upset loss to Brewster four years ago, and along the way has transformed his image from mechanical European with a balky chin to athletic powerhouse standing head and shoulders above a weak division.
"He's definitely earned it," Thompson said. "He's got two of the four titles and he's a tough fighter. He's beaten a lot of great guys and he deserves all the respect and the credit he gets.
"But I know for me, my job is to go over there and beat the crap out of him. And I'm good at my job."
FitzHitz says: Klitschko in 8.
Three title fights in three weight classes on three days augment the weekend schedule.
On Friday night, Haitian-born Quebec resident Joachim Alcine fights for the second straight time in front of new home fans in Montreal, facing No. 1 contender Daniel Santos for the WBA's super welterweight title at Uniprix Stadium.
Now 32 years old, Alcine unseated incumbent Travis Simms with a unanimous decision last July in Bridgeport, Conn., and then defended with a 12th-round TKO of Alfonso Mosquera five months later at Bell Centre in Montreal.
He is 30-0 with 19 KOs in a pro career that began in May 1999.
Also 32, Santos is already a two-time world champion, having won and defended the WBO's welterweight title three times in 2000-01 before moving to 154 to win the same body's junior middleweight crown in March 2002.
He defended that title four times before losing to Sergiy Dzinziruk in December 2005.
Still, Santos, who turned pro in 1996 and is 31-3-1 with 22 KOs, is probably best known for two bloody fights with two-time welterweight belt-holder Antonio Margarito.
The first, in 2001, ended in a no-contest after an early clash of heads.
The rematch in 2004 resulted in a 10-round technical win for Santos, who was ahead on the scorecards when the bout was stopped by a cut on Margarito's right eyebrow caused by an accidental butt.
FitzHitz says: Alcine by decision.
On Saturday, once-beaten Mexican power puncher Ulises Solis risks his IBF junior flyweight title for the seventh time when he faces 15th-ranked Glenn Donaire at the Palenque De La Expo in Hermosillo.
Stopped by WBO champion Nelson Dieppa in his first title try in 2004, Solis came back to win the IBF's 108-pound crown with a decision over American Will Grigsby on the Baldomir-Judah undercard at Madison Square Garden in January 2006.
He's defended six times, scoring five stoppages -- including an eight-round win over Grigsby -- and escaping with a majority draw against countryman Omar Salado.
He TKO'd Bert Batawang in nine rounds on Dec. 15, improving to 26-1-2 with 20 KOs.
The 28-year-old Donaire, who turned pro in 2000, lost a six-round technical decision to Vic Darchinyan in a bid for the IBF and IBO flyweight titles in October 2006.
He's fought once since, winning an eight-round decision from Jose Albuquerque on Feb. 22 to up his career record to 17-3-1.
FitzHitz says: Solis in 6.
Rounding out the slate Sunday in South Africa, long-time fringe champion and native son Cassius Baloyi risks his newly-won IBF junior lightweight belt for the first time when he meets No. 14 challenger Javier Alvarez.
It'll be the sixth straight outing on home turf for Baloyi, who won the title on April 12 with a majority decision over Mzonke Fana and improved to 35-3-1 in a career that began in 1994.
The 5-foot-10 Johannesburg product was a WBU champion at 122 and 126 pounds, held the IBO's title at 130 pounds and was later beaten by Isaac Hlatswayo in a try for that organization's 135-pound belt in 2005.
He had a one-fight IBF reign at 130 after a TKO of Manuel Medina in 2006, but lost the crown in defense No. 1 against Gairy St. Clair.
He's since met both Medina and St. Clair again, unanimously defeating St. Clair over 12 rounds while the Medina rematch was declared a technical draw when Medina sustained a cut due to an accidental butt.
Alvarez, a 31-year-old Argentine, was stopped in nine rounds in Fana's final successful title defense. He's dropped three of his last five fights overall, including a 12-round verdict to Medina in March 2006.
He improved to 35-7-1 with a 10-round decision over Nazareno Gaston Ruiz in his last fight, in December in Resistencia, Argentina.
FitzHitz says: Baloyi by decision.
Lyle Fitzsimmons is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He provides 'In The Ring' commentary for Speeding Bullet Network (speedingbulletnetwork.com), is a periodic contributor to 'The Drive with Dave Smith' on KLAA radio (am830klaa.com) and can be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.