Boxing


Clinton Woods-Elvir Muriqi Moved To February 14th, Woods Determined To Win IBF Eliminator

by James Slater - A very interesting and potentially explosive light-heavyweight bout takes place on St. Valentine's day next year. Originally scheduled to fight on January 31st in Jersey, The Channel Islands, U.K, Clinton Woods and Elvir Muriqi will now clash on the island two weeks later (so as to accommodate UK T.V demands). At stake is the IBF number two position and a possible world title shot for the winner. Both men realise this may be their last chance at top level, the 36-year-old Woods especially..

Clinton lost badly to Antonio Tarver back in April, losing his IBF belt in the process. Muriqi, who is much the younger man at just 29, also lost to Tarver, but he gave "The Magic Man" a much tougher night than did the Sheffield man - indeed, not only does Muriqi believe he actually beat Tarver (it was a majority verdict in favour of the southpaw), Woods agrees with him.

Speaking to The Star, Woods and his promoter Dennis Hobson spoke about the upcoming bout.

"I think this fight is a little bit similar to the Rico Hoye situation," Hobson said, with regards to when Woods beat Hoye to finally become a world champion. "Elvir Muriqi is a roughhouse type of opponent who is desperate to get in position for a title fight next. With his [Muriqi's] style of fighting, there's no way the fight can fail to be exciting. The Clinton Woods I know beats him, though."

Woods, 41-4-1(24) spoke of how he knows this fight represents his last chance at the big time.

"I have one more chance now. Dennis has got me into the position where if I beat this guy I will get a world title fight," Woods said. "I think he [Muriqi] beat Tarver, so it's two guys that lost to Tarver, and he's also got the chance to get back to world level again. I promise my fans who spent a lot of money to come and see me fight in Tampa, I'll repay them with a world title next year. It will definitely be a win for me."

Chad Dawson is now the IBF's top dog at 175-pounds, having won a comfortable decision over Tarver a few weeks ago. Now Woods and Muriqi meet in the hopes of getting a crack at "Bad Chad." Who wins?

On paper, Muriqi, 35-4(22) is perhaps a slight favourite. He is younger, did far better against Tarver than did Woods, and he is still fresh - as Hobson admits. But Woods, though he looked poor against Tarver, is a tough warrior. Having pushed himself hard in training for this bout, and knowing full well his very career is on the line, the former IBF champ cannot be even remotely written off.

Both men come forward and can bang, both can stop opponents and also get stopped themselves, and both men are hard workers in the ring. Woods has been in with better calibre fighters, such as Roy Jones, Glen Johnson and Julio Cesar Gonzalez; beating Johnson and Gonzalez. Whereas "The Kosovo Kid," as Muriqi is known, has only ever met one genuine world class level opponent in common foe Tarver. Could the edge in experience at top level help Woods?

This one all comes down to how much Woods, and to a degree Muriqi, has left. Clinton has not boxed since the one-sided loss to Tarver, while Muriqi has boxed just once since his June 2007 loss to the same man - winning a 4th round TKO back in January of 2008. How much the two men have left and how affected they may or may not be in coming back after a long layoff (Muriqi especially, who will have been out for over a year come fight time) will likely decide this one.

A distance fight looks a good bet, and this writer goes with Woods to edge it. Just.

Article posted on 11.12.2008



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