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Jimmy Thunder knows that beating a former heavyweight champio

March 7, 1995

PRIOR LAKE, Minn. (AP) _ Jimmy Thunder knows that beating a former heavyweight champion is one of the fastest ways to earn respect _ even if the former champion is 40 years old.

Thunder, 28, of New Zealand, will face Israel T. Berbick, formerly Trevor Berbick, in a 12-round bout for the vacant World Boxing Council Continental Americas title tonight at Mystic Lake Casino.

``This is unbelievable,″ said Thunder, the International Boxing Organization champion. ``America is the land of opportunity and, wow, this is an opportunity for me to get into the top 10. This is make or break for me.″

The International Boxing Council champion, Berbick (41-7-1 with 30 knockouts) served two years in prison on a rape conviction and is on probation after being charged with grand theft.

The fight will be Berbick’s eighth since being released from prison.

Berbick, who lost the WBC title to Mike Tyson in 1986, thinks his experience and physical condition can return him to his previous level.

``I function like I’m 18, 19, but I don’t go in and try to do the things I did when I was that young,″ Berbick said. ``I’m more experienced, I can outsmart other boxers.″

While Berbick is known as a technician who waits for an opportunity to strike, Thunder (23-5, 18 KOs) uses power as his primary weapon.

Thunder captured the IBO title in October with a 12-round decision over Richard Mason in Atlantic City, N.J.

``I really want to do some boxing that I learned,″ Thunder said. ``I want to show technique, but if Trevor wants to fight, well, I’m a fighter and I’ll fight.″

Joe Hipp was originally scheduled to fight Berbick. But Hipp injured his elbow and Thunder, who defeated Tony Tubbs in his last bout, stepped in.

Heavyweights Danell Nicholson (17-1, 12 KOs) and William Morris (13-11-1, 1 KO) will fight in the co-feature.