Thanks For The Great Fights, Clinton, And Enjoy Your Retirement. Woods Calls It Quits

by James Slater - It's official: Clinton Woods, Sheffield's man of steel, has retired from boxing. The announcement came today, less than two weeks after the former IBF light-heavyweight champion's tough points loss to the much younger and unbeaten Tavoris Cloud of Florida.

Though 37-year-old Woods toyed with the idea of fighting on after suffering what was only his fifth loss as a pro, Clinton today told his local paper, The Sheffield Star, that he'd made his mind up and is waving goodbye to the sport he fell in love with..

"[Tavoris] Cloud was a really good fighter and he's young, while maybe I'm too old for that level," Woods said. "In my hey-day I'd have beaten him, but I have no excuses and I think my love affair with boxing is over."

Woods, who turned pro way back in November of 1994, went on to work his way up, firstly to Commonwealth level, then to British and European and finally, at the fourth time of asking, winning a world light-heavyweight title. Never a man to cherry pick opponents, never a man who was afraid to travel to an opponent's back yard for a fight, Woods was also never a man who gave less than a 100-percent in the gym at all times (Woods once spoke of how he was appalled by lazy fighters, when he, by comparison, was a fighter who worked his b*****s off in the gym!).

His hard work and dedication gradually paid off for him, and after setbacks at the hands of David Starie, Roy Jones Junior and Glen Johnson (twice) Woods met and defeated the highly touted and unbeaten Rico Hoye in 2005, stopping Hoye in the 5th-round to claim the vacant IBF strap. Showing a real and genuine desire to become the best at his weight, there was one man Clinton had in his sights upon becoming champ - the man with the "Road Warrior" nickname.

When asked why he wanted Johnson so badly, Woods replied that it was simply "because he beat me." Going up against the man who had KO'd Jones Junior and who had also out-pointed Antonio Tarver was a risky thing for the still relatively new titlist to do, but Woods wanted to show the world he was the real deal. Meeting Johnson on September 2nd, 2006, once again in his home country, the 34-year-old Sheffield man won his most important victory, out-pointing Johnson closely in a superb action fight.

This win, as he said to The Sheffield Star, is one of Clinton's most cherished performances.

"There have been more ups than downs over 15 years," Woods said. "Beating Crawford Ashley for the European light-heavyweight title (in 1999) and winning the [IBF] world title against Rico Hoye were the biggest highlights, along with beating Glen Johnson (2006). It was good while it lasted and I am happy with what I achieved."

And so should he be. Though a talked of mega-British showdown of a fight with fellow world champion Joe Calzaghe never came off, Woods had his share of big money bouts. The 37-year-old says, though, that he will likely go back to his old day job of being a plasterer now that he's hung up the gloves.

"I'm not a millionaire but I have made good money out of boxing," he said. "But I couldn't do nothing. I want to work a couple of days a week. I'll miss boxing, but I'll keep going to the gym."

A tough nut of a fighter whose lack of God-given talent was more than overcome due to a quite amazing level of persistence, Woods has his place in British boxing history. Never a trash talker or a big head, Clinton was one of the sport's genuine nice guys.

Woods retires with a fine 42-5-1(24) pro record. Only a peak Roy Jones Junior ever managed to stop him. Clinton was IBF 175-pound champion from 2005 to 2008. He made four successful defences.

Article posted on 08.09.2009

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