Who Next For Joe Calzaghe? - Clinton Woods?

04.11.07- By James Slater: On Saturday night, as an in-studio television guest analyst, IBF light-heavyweight champion Clinton Woods made it abundantly clear who he wants to fight next. Having just seen his countryman Joe Calzaghe put on what was arguably the best performance yet for the super-middleweight king, against the gutsy Mikkel Kessler, Woods said he'd relish fighting Joe next. Will this challenge motivate "The Pride Of Wales?" Let's face it, after the very impressive number he did on the previously unbeaten Dane, there is not a whole lot else left for Joe at 168 pounds..

Maybe a move up to 175, and a shot at Clinton's IBF belt will capture Calzaghe's interest sufficiently to give British fans a domestic super fight. Woods clearly wants it, and if the now unified super-middleweight great wants it too, then why not? Such a fight would certainly present Calzaghe with yet another challenge - something he absolutely loves.

Both Calzaghe and Woods believe they are the best of British and although they box in different weight classes at the moment, Joe has said on more than one occasion he is ready and willing to move up the required seven pounds to tackle Clinton. The result would be a fight between a man who believes he is best light-heavyweight on the planet and the man who is undeniably the best super-middleweight in the World. With each man’s recent superb performances - Joe's against Kessler last night, and Clinton's against the tough Julio Gonzalez back in late September - improving their reputations no end, the idea of them facing each other is now a mouth-watering prospect.

Back when Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank were settling their domestic differences, the whole British public was seemingly tuning in to watch, such had their intense rivalries got everyone talking. And while Joe and Clinton are not exactly at each others throats in the same way Nigel and Chris were, there does seem to be some dislike between the two. Calzaghe, for instance, angered Clinton by openly rooting for his opponent in Glen Johnson in the run up to Woods v Johnson III last year.

And Joe seems determined to want to prove he is the number one British boxer fighting today - if he didn't more than do so last night, that is. As such, a fight between the two will be nothing but a massively watched rumble.

The third encounter between the Sheffield man and Johnson brought in almost three and a half million television viewers in the U.K - not bad numbers for late night boxing in Britain. However, a fight between the premiere light heavyweight vs. the unbeaten super middleweight star will no doubt be seen by even more viewers. For British boxing fans, the fight simply has to happen.

With no more reason than his excellent wins over previously unbeaten and formidable opposition such as Kessler and Jeff Lacy, Joe will no doubt be the big betting favourite if and when the fight is first announced. Clinton will not mind this, however. He is used to being the under dog.

Still, one does have to keep in mind the fact that Calzaghe will be fighting at a new weight for the very first time. Will his speed, particularly of hand, be compromised when carrying the new poundage? This is just one of the questions that will keep the outcome in doubt right until the final bell.

Joe, undoubtedly, has the better skills. His fast hands are razor sharp and stunningly accurate. While his chin has not once been dented - the only knockdowns suffered in his career coming against Byron Mitchell and Kabary Salem, both of which he quickly rose from to win. And Joe’s punching power is clearly worthy of respect, at the very least. But Clinton is a very strong and determined fighter, especially after becoming world champion and defending his title four times.

Woods can never be even remotely discounted, such is his inner steel and grit. A stronger fighter, both physically and mentally, now that an iron deficiency has been remedied, Woods is a boxer who will seemingly go through sheer hell to keep what he has worked so hard to achieve. This will make him a tough, and dangerous foe for anyone, including Wales’ finest.

The naturally bigger and taller man in Woods will approach the fight with his usual down to earth attitude, being that he is never a man to shoot his mouth off. Whereas Joe, although not exactly in the same league as, say, Floyd Mayweather, when it comes to outright boasting, will certainly have more to say during the build-up to the clash. Immediately after Clinton’s brave and admirable win over Johnson, for example, Calzaghe boldly stated how he had no doubt he would destroy either Clinton or Glen Johnson. He is not a fighter who is afraid of speaking with a confident/ arrogant attitude, that’s for sure. While Clinton favours the quietly confident method. It is this contrast in the two men’s personalities, amongst many other things, that will have the fans glued should they meet some time next year.

Though I will wait until the fight is officially announced - if indeed it actually will be - before picking a winner, I will go so far as to say I do not think the fight will be anyway near as easy as Joe Calzaghe seems to think it will be. Clinton Woods is one tough and hard headed fighter, something that people do tend to forget at times. In the final analysis, I think a war will be fought between the two men. A war that will have fans shouting throughout.

One thing's for sure, As Woods stated last night, such a clash would surely fill The Millennium Stadium - just as Calzaghe-Kessler did.

Article posted on 04.11.2007

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