If you look boxer Tom Karpency Jr. up online this is a brief synopsis that you will find: An American professional boxer who fights in the light heavyweight division. A professional since 2006, he is a three-time world title challenger; first challenging for the WBO and IBO light heavyweight titles in 2012, as well as the WBC light heavyweight title in 2015.
There is much more to Karpency than that paragraph.
He comes from a very athletic family that includes two younger brothers, Jeremiah and Daniel, and an older sister, Rachel. Father Tom was an outstanding athlete.
“We always boxed in the gym when we were kids,” Karpency recalled. “I always had a knack for it and hit the bags a lot and I sparred a good bit with the kids around the neighborhood. I never had the drive to compete.
“Growing up we had some rough housing, but the brothers, we wrestled and we boxed and sparred thousands of rounds. My dad meant the most to my career. Without him this doesn’t happen and the same thing with my brothers. We really had a very athletic family.
“What happened was I went to Waynesburg College for a semester and I was going to wrestle on the wrestling team.”
Karpency wrestled two years at Albert Gallatin for coach Duane Dupont and had a modest amount of success. He compiled a 10-9 record at 189 pounds in 2002 and 2003 and was a section runner-up.
“My brothers were much better wrestlers than I was,” Karpency said. “I was a fair wrestler.”
Karpency seemed destined for the boxing ring.
“I was going to wrestle at Waynesburg and I went to a few practices, it was more conditioning than practice,” Karpency explained. “I called my dad and mom and said I’m not going to wrestle. I want to fight and at first dad wasn’t too keen on it. He said why don’t you fight a tough man contest and see what happens.
“I fought in a tough man contest in Clarksburg, West Virginia, and I won. After that you can’t fight amateur because you accepted money. I didn’t have much of a choice, I had to turn pro. My dad said I would be fine and we will train hard and get you moving.
“Even though I had a good background as far as being in the gym all those years my ring time was very limited. I won the tough man contest when I was 19 years old. I didn’t fight a pro fight until the following year. I got myself in shape and trained hard and watched hours of fights. We went to different boxing gyms and sparred. I progressed pretty quickly. It was a lot of hard work to get ready to turn pro.”
Karpency made his professional debut against Santiago Hillario at Wheeling Island Casino Racetrack on May 19, 2006, and won a unanimous decision. He went 11-0 before he fought to a draw on June 13, 2008, against Demetrius Davis at Du Burns Arena in Baltimore, Maryland. He suffered his first defeat in his next fight on July 2, 2008. He lost an eight-round unanimous decision to Rayco Saunders at Pullman Park in Butler, Pa.
“There are more regional and state fights today,” Karpency said. “What those fights do is they steer you into the rankings of that particular boxing organization. You can win regional or intercontinental titles under different sanctioning bodies and those are where you moved up in their rankings.”
Karpency moved his record to 16-1-1 when he tangled with Cory Phelps on Jan. 30, 2009, at Waterfront Place Hotel in Morgantown for the vacant WBA Fedecentro Light heavyweight title. He notched a TKO in the second round of a scheduled 10 rounder to capture the title.
“I have fought light heavyweight for my entire career,” Karpency offered.
Karpency retained the WBA Fedecentro Light heavyweight title on Aug. 21, 2009, winning a unanimous 10-round decision over Chuck Mussachio at Waterfront Place Hotel in Morgantown.
On May 1, 2010, Karpency fought Karo Murat in Weser-Ems Halle, Oldenburg, Germany for the WBO Inter-Continental Light heavyweight title. He lost a unanimous 12-round decision. He fought Nathan Cleverly at Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, Wales on Feb. 25, 2012, for the WBO Light heavyweight title, and lost a unanimous 12-round decision.
Karpency had a shot at the vacant IBO Light heavyweight title on Nov. 16, 2012, at UIC Pavilion in Chicago. He suffered a TKO in the seventh round of a 12-round bout at the hands of Andrzej Fonfara.
“I fought the best light heavyweights of probably the last 20 or 30 years,” Karpency stated. “I fought five different world champions. Three of which were world champions when I fought them.”
He lost a bout for the WBC Light heavyweight title to Canadian Adonis Stevenson on Sept. 11, 2015, at Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto. Karpency suffered a TKO in the third round of a scheduled 12 round fight.
“I also sparred with Adonis a few times after that fight,” Karpency said. “I went to train with him for a few weeks to prepare him for the next fight that he won.”
During his career Karpency was WBA Fedecentro Light Heavyweight champ, WBA NABA Light Heavyweight champ and Pennsylvania Light Heavyweight State champion.
“I’m really proud of what I accomplished in my career,” Karpency said. “I’m not satisfied. I look back on my career and there is more that I could have done and probably chances that I could have taken to have done better. I compare it to I played in the Super Bowl, but I lost. I just wish I could have done better than I did.”
One big feather in Karpency’s bonnet is he owns a victory over former World Champion Chad Dawson, a 10-round split decision at Foxwoods Casino and Resort in Connecticut.
“Dawson is probably a top five light heavyweight of the past 30 or 40 years,” Karpency stated. “Dawson has wins over Antonio Tarver, Glen Johnson and Bernard Hopkins. These are legends in the sport that he beat.”
Karpency, 36, resides in Adah, Pa., with his wife of nine years Andrea. They have three children, Thomas Joseph, Meredith and Matilda. Karpency is a full-time registered nurse and works at SCI Greene in Waynesburg.
“Over the next few months I’d like to get myself back in shape,” Karpency explained. “I don’t have the body of a 25-year-old, but my skills have not eroded. The thing you notice at 36 is getting up the next day to train. That’s the difference, your recovery. If I can get a good tune-up fight and I look good and I feel good I will pursue something.
“I’m always up to fight the best fighter, especially guys in my generation. I want to get those guys on my resume. I’d like to get one more notable fight and finish with a flourish.”
George Von Benko’s “Memory Lane” column appears in the Sunday editions of the Herald-Standard. He also hosts a sports talk show on WMBS-AM radio from 10 am to noon on Saturdays.