Clinton Woods has the goods

01.11.07 - By Andrew Wake: They say that, on world terms at least, Bradford’s World Boxing Council Light Welterweight champ Junior “The Hitter” Witter is Britain’s most ignored fighter. But, given that he’s recently had fights with world ranked American’s DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley and “Vicious” Vivian Harris, I’m not so true that is the case anymore..

Granted, he has been overlooked by Ricky Hatton but with the Harris victory now in the bag he is beginning to get mentions stateside and a possible unification with International Boxing Federation king Paulie Malignaggi could come to fruition sometime in 2008, providing the New Yorker comes through his January 5th date with Herman Ngoudjo. I feel that the title of “Most overlooked British Champion” should now go to Sheffield’s Clinton Woods.

Woods has held the IBF Light heavyweight for over two years, he has pasted undefeated Rico Hoye in 5 rounds, beaten top ranked contender and former World Boxing Organization titlist Julio Gonzalez not once but twice and is ranked highly by Ring magazine, so why do I think he’s overlooked? Simple, most American’s (and let’s be honest the US is the place where must boxing opinions are made) have either not heard of him or are not willing to accept that he is a legitimate contender for the 175 pound division’s top spot.

One respected American fight scribe, when writing about the top light heavies recently, even went as far as to omit Clinton from his rankings, giving his place instead to the shell that is Roy Jones (a fighter than has not beaten a top 10 ranked opponent in nearly four years).

Now I know that some of the comments I’m about to make in this article will raise debate so I wish to address some of the things I know people will say before we start. I’m expecting comments like:

“Roy Jones whooped his arse”

“He lost all three fights to Glencoffe Johnson”

“He has only held onto his title due to home town judging”.

Well let’s try and put a few things straight then shall we?

Firstly, its five years since he was beaten so soundly in Portland, Oregan and that was to a prime Roy Jones (I must put emphasis on the word PRIME). At the time Jones was a fighter that swept away all that stood before him and was considered unbeatable. Despite Roy still being around, a fighter of that supreme quality does not exist at the weight anymore.

Next, Woods did not lose all three fights to man they call “The Road Warrior”. Ok the first fight that was scored as a draw was dodgy and he lost the second bout fairly but, the third contest in Bolton, England last year was won fair and square. I’m not saying that he in anyway outclassed Johnson, far from it, in fact, Glen boxed well and hurt Clinton in the ninth session but the champion showed his heart by tapping into the well of resolve and won what was a hard fought, all action, battle. I scored it six rounds to five with one even.

To anyone who believes that last years bout was another “hometown decision” in most likelihood hasn’t seen the fight and only read about it in a magazine and should bear the following factors in mind 1) Woods was not the home promotion fighter that night. Frank Warren (a man who is known for not being a fan of Woods or his promoter Dennis Hobson) brokered a partnership with Glen Johnson’s promotional company Warrior Boxing and won the purse bids. Warren, was hoping to tie up a lucrative fight between Glen and his fighter Joe Calzaghe should the Jamaican be able to wrestle the title from Woods’ grasp. 2) Of the three judges only one of them was British, Micky Vann, and he scored the fight for Johnson. The other two judges came from Puerto Rico and the US respectively.

Many misconceptions exist about Wood’s reign as champion and his ability a pugilist but if you’ve watched his recent fights you’ll have seen that the 35 year old has improved since he won the vacant belt in 2005. “He’s become a really accomplished fighter since he won the world title” Dennis Hobson said “He lives well, he eats well, he walks around like a champion. They say once you win a title, you move to another level mentally and he has”.

With a world title around his waist and wins over Johnson and Gonzalez in the books promoter Hobson is also confident that he can now get his fighter an opponent that would put Woods’ name on the map, he said “Clinton will fight anybody but it’s all about timing and, to be honest, I’d prefer Tarver but it’s looking more like Dawson.”

He added “I think we can strike a deal with Gary Shaw to bring him to Britain if that’s marketable. Dawson’s slick, but not that big and has been dropped. He’s only going to get better, though, so maybe it’s smarter to fight him now.”

Personally I’m not sure about Dawson but I do believe that the big man from the Steel City could quite comfortably handle Antonio Tarver and the current version of Roy Jones Jnr and given that “Bad” Chad is new to the division and still relatively untested I feel that Woods should rightfully be seen as what he is, a fighter second to only one man…………….Bernard Hopkins

Article posted on 02.11.2007

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