When Warriors Meet (2001)

By Ted Sares on May 8, 2013
When Warriors Meet (2001)
Ezra’s classic match against Carl Thompson involved at least six official knockdowns.

This was no boxing match but rather a no holds-barred fight between two of the most exciting punchers in boxing…

“These two gladiators concocted the perfect blend of edge-of-your-seat tension and stunning bravery only fighting men are capable of.”—Danny Winterbottom

“Thompson looks to be hurt by every shot he takes, but then again so does Sellers.”—Spencer Oliver

“I’ve seen Ezra Sellers KO people with range finders, and I mean dead asleep. I’ve seen Ezra Sellers nearly kill IRON CHINNED Johnny Nelson. I’ve seen Ezra Sellers fold Carl Thompson over, and nearly kill him as well, and that mother——- is as tough as they come.”—ESB online poster

If Carl “The Cat” Thompson’s greatest win was his stoppage over David Haye in 2004 then surely Ezra Seller’s best was his earlier stoppage of The Cat in 2001 for the IBO cruiserweight title—and in Manchester no less.

With a record of 29-8 with 26 KOs, cruiserweight Ezra Sellers had the punch but not the chin and was as scintillating as Julian Jackson, Julian Letterlough, Ratanapol Sor Vorapin and other chill-or-be chilled types. But Sellers was different in that he participated in many closet classics that flew under the radar but were notable for their incredible back-and-forth action.

As aficionados will recall, Sellers’s fights with Carl “The Cat” Thompson (one of my very favorite fighters, who was always most dangerous when he was in distress)), rugged Englishman Johnny Nelson, and bomber Alex Stewart stand out. His fight with Stewart was reminiscent of Foreman-Lyle or Moorer-Cooper in that Sellers decked “The Destroyer” several times before being iced in the third. Stewart, a super exciting fighter in his own right and the man who rendered George Foreman’s face unrecognizable, won the battle but clearly lost the war as he was never the same after this savagery.

The Fight

Ezra’s classic match against ripped Carl Thompson (with a prime Steve Smoger refereeing) involved at least six official knockdowns; Thompson was knocked down four times, Sellers twice. This was no boxing match but rather a no holds-barred fight between two of the most exciting punchers in boxing.

The fireworks started early. Sellers, fighting economically, used accurate lefts and rights to keep The Cat caged and finally floored him in the round one with a short and hard right. But the game Thompson immediately returned the favor with his own hard right to deck the American. Incredibly, unbelievably, the exact same scenario occurred in the second round but with harder exchanges! This had to be seen to be believed.

Going into the third, both men had been staggered and dropped hard. Both were on the verge of being put to sleep. Finally, Sellers became the Sandman when he KO’d The Cat in the fourth round with a crunching counter right hook, ending a winning streak that started after Thompson lost to Johnny Nelson in 1999. Thompson has been knocked down many times, but he always got up. This time he was separated from his senses and sent to Feline Dreamland. He finally rose from the canvas to the applause of the stunned and worried crowd.

This fight showed what can happen when two heavy handed types with suspect chins face off and decide to let it all hang out.

Later

Before Sellers, the cunning Cat had beaten such notables as Terry Dunstan, an aging Chris Eubank (twice), Ralf Rocchigiani, Nicky Piper, and Uriah Grant. After the Sellers encounter, he won several important fights including another closet classic against Sebastiaan Rothmann (whom he knocked cold with a much-talked-about right hand), and his superb win over David Haye when, after taking early punishment, he cunningly clawed his way back and caught the gassed upstart and finished him with a clean stoppage. “The Cat” had his final fight in 2005 and won his last six in a row. He remains one of the most respected fighters in British boxing.

It was a shame that Carl flew under the radar of American boxing writers and fans. In many ways, his exploits were just as noteworthy as those of Nigel Benn, Eubank, or Alan Minter. Maybe it was because he fought as a cruiserweight (a lower profile weight division), but it’s more likely because that he never fought in the USA.

Sellers would next fight Johnny “The Entertainer” Nelson for the WBO cruiserweight title in Denmark. Once again, it was an exciting duke as Ezra decked Nelson in the 4th round. It was the first time Nelson had hit the deck in 10 years, and only the second time in his entire career up to that point. Sellers eventually succumbed to the long reigning champion but not before engaging in a fight in which he was giving Nelson almost more than he could handle.

After losing two to O’Neil Bell and Kelvin Davis, Sellers retired in 2004, but made a comeback and stopped two lower level opponents. However, he was knocked cold by Emmanuel Nwodo in January 2008 and that was it. In all fairness, it should be noted he took a brutal shot to the back of the head against Nwodo before the series of blows that took him out. The foul was missed by referee James Santa.

Ezra Sellers is a great sportsman and a class act outside the ring who works regularly with special needs kids. He also was an ultra exciting fighter who thrilled fans wherever and whenever he fought. He will be inducted into the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame in 2013.

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Carl Thompson v Ezra Sellers 2001



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  1. raxman 03:46pm, 05/09/2013

    I love good commentary. for a minute before the ko that dude is stressing the counter southpaw hook was the danger for Thompson, and sure enough.
    that fight broke my heart - Thompson was robbed in the nelson fight via a totally premature stoppage. . this fight with sellers put an end to the chance of a nelson v Cat rematch - and I think, isn’t that a shattered looking nelson they cut to after the stoppage, watching from ringside

  2. Ted 02:16pm, 05/09/2013

    Thanks Michael

  3. Michael Hegan 11:40am, 05/09/2013

    Thanks Ted…..Not all good fighters get good coverage….and Boxing is about more than just Champions…

    Great read…thanks for the education…

  4. Ted 07:27am, 05/09/2013

    Tex, that’s one of the reasons I like to do these types of articles. To give these guys their due. Most fans don’t even know who the “Cat” was. They immediately think of Cleveland “Big Cat” Williams.

  5. Tex Hassler 07:21am, 05/09/2013

    Publicity plays a big part in fighters getting recognition and big fights.

  6. Ted 09:49am, 05/08/2013

    And curiously, everyone was swooning over Duran. SRL, Hearns, and Hagler—and rightly so—but Benn, Eubank, Watson, Collins, and Thompson seemed to get bypassed to a degree.

  7. Ted 09:46am, 05/08/2013

    Lee has the beat

  8. Lee 09:44am, 05/08/2013

    Ah Ted, what can I say?  I’m glad someone else feels the same way about The Cat. Carl is a fighter that will always be close to my heart. How many times did we see him almost literally come back from the dead in a fight? Truly the man had nine fistic lives, not just throughout the duration of his career, but pretty much within every bout. If he was American Canastota would be calling and the gates would be flung wide open to embrace him.

  9. Ted 09:41am, 05/08/2013

    Krusher, I am in the mode to feed my catharsis needs and writing, trading, golf, and powerlifting do that for me.

  10. kid vegas 09:21am, 05/08/2013

    Welcome from Henderson, Nevada and Lake Las Vegas. Ted, I am so pleased you are going back and picking out these classics. I never knew about this one but I did know Sellers was an exciting fighter.

  11. the Krusher 08:54am, 05/08/2013

    I see you are in machine mode. Keep ‘em coming.

  12. Ted 08:04am, 05/08/2013

    I thought so too. I had to run the video over and over to make sure I was watching the right round.

  13. dollarbond 08:03am, 05/08/2013

    The repeat scenario was pretty hard to believe.

  14. Ted 05:41am, 05/08/2013

    Steve Smoger was the ref. Point taken MS!!!!!

  15. Ted Spoon 05:30am, 05/08/2013

    Highly watchable, almost comical fight.
    When Sellers was floored in return for the second time you truly felt anything could happen.
    However, when Ezra let loose with that right hook I knew that was that. He wasn’t the best boxer, but when it came to creating leverage out of nowhere Sellers was downright scary. 
    Louis would have tipped his hat to that one.

  16. Mike Schmidt 05:14am, 05/08/2013

    One of my favorite back and forths—hey Bull who dat ref that made sure we got the action hee hee hee

  17. Ted 04:39am, 05/08/2013

    He was Gatti before Gatti, Mike.

  18. Mike Casey 03:30am, 05/08/2013

    I saw this one as it happened and couldn’t believe it. You needed to lie down in a darkened room after watching any Carl Thompson fight.

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