Ringside at the Bolton Arena: Woods/Johnson, Khan/Barrett

04.09.06 - By MICHAEL KLIMES - Brothers: Sorry readers for a late report but I had a long journey back from Bolton on Sunday morning to the south of England and was also busy for most of today. For the first time, my elder brother came with me to see his first boxing card and we both thoroughly enjoyed our time there. Unsurprisingly, we had arguments as brothers always do and over a predictable subject, sport..

My brother, Adam, being a huge football (soccer) fan wanted to watch part of the game between England and Andorra, which is a very small country in Europe. Our team was giving Andorra a good thrashing and he insisted on watching the second half when it was clear we would win. I suggested football, rather dangerously, was an inferior sport to boxing and the tirades commenced from there. I reasoned we had paid good money for excellent seats and that the match we were viewing was insignificant but the bout we were going to see was not. He came around to my point of view.

Johnson vs. Woods

In a nutshell, I saw the confrontation between Clinton Woods and Glen Johnson as a very good one with both participating in closely fought rounds. Towards the concluding stage I thought the twelfth round would be the deciding one as whoever finished strongest would get the decision. I agreed that Woods won the fight and I would not have agreed with a draw. I would settle for the split decision. It was the definitive fight for him and his recent improvement and confidence has now been increased by his most impressive performance to date. I could not score Round 2 (therefore the fight) because two fat men got in the way and were arguing with some other spectators in the crowd.

I gave Round 1 to Johnson (10-9) because he landed the better array of punches and was winning in his style. Round 3 went to Woods as he got in good hooks and uppercuts. I scored the 4th Round 10-10 as Woods moved and landed some good punches but Johnson’s pressure converted the end of round to him. It was an exciting one.

Round 5 and 7 went to Woods but Johnson had Round 6. Rounds 8 and 9 went to Johnson, especially 9 that was Johnson’s best. He unleashed many decent hooks to the body and straight rights. Wood’s demonstrated real class and courage in standing up to those onslaughts but my two big criticisms of Woods was he had his hands too low in many parts of the bout, making him take unnecessary shots and he was willing to trade. Johnson was the shorter and clearly better inside fighter for much of the contest and Woods had his superior spurts at a distance. In all fairness to Woods, he did get on the inside well but that was towards the very end when Johnson was tiring. Round 10 also went to Johnson but Woods rebounded back magnificently and Johnson clinched at the break. Both went at it in the final stanza and I have the strong feeling that if it was a 15 rounder, Woods would have finished Johnson as he was staggered and had nothing left.

My scoring gave 5 rounds to Johnson and 5 rounds to Woods and there being a draw. The overall score bar the 2nd Round was 105 either way. On reviewing my recording, I scored Round 2 to Wood making my final score 115-114.

Judge Richard Bays scored the fight 115-112 Woods, Roberto Ramirez scored it 115-113 Johnson and Mickey Vann scored it 116-112 for Woods. I was surprised how neat Johnson’s defence was, he successfully deflected Wood’s jab and countered and scored with his own at points during the fight! Equally, Johnson got past his defences well by altering between the head and body with good combination punching. Woods weathered the storm and delivered his own blows and gave a decent account of mixing it up and counter-punching.

Khan vs. Barrett

Khan pretty much annihilated his opposition and some are raising questions of his opposition. I think I am as well, Khan is progressing so fast that it is incredibly exciting and yet worrying. He needs to be given challenges but not bite off more than he can chew and it is difficult to judge him because he is obviously a very talented boxer but has not been tested so far. However, we will all have more of an idea in 3 or 4 years how good he really is.

Future Possibilities?

Woods will probably try to entice Calzaghe. It is the biggest domestic clash that can be made in Britain and there does seem to be a genuine disliking between them. Both would be given big paydays and both have similarities. They are 34 years of age, have just come off their most important career performances and are full of confidence.

If a fight did happen I would love to see it but Calzaghe has his eyes set on the dollar sign of America and who can blame him? Even if 4 of the heavyweight champions are not American, the sanctioning bodies still are, Oleg Maskaev said (before his title fight with Rahman), ‘I would say I'm a proud Russian-American. So right now, I'm a citizen of America, of [the] United States... Whoever is going to win is going to be American.’

Even though 3 considerable fights have happened within the last year in the U.K which have been Hatton-Tszyu, Lacy-Calzaghe and Woods-Johnson, Ricky Hatton has still gone to war in the United States, as did Naseem Hamed, Nigel Benn and Lennox Lewis. The common pattern is simple, to become a boxing superstar, one needs to go across the Atlantic and forge a reputation in the land, where all the big shots end up regardless of their nationality or background.

Although Woods is world class and in his prime I do not think he can beat Calzaghe. This is all hypothetical and I acknowledge I will probably be proved wrong as boxing pundits are a lot of the time but if Calzaghe moves up to the light heavyweight division without any deficiencies and his hands are in good order, then he should win if the fight does come off.

Let me, explain, Woods for his merits does not have Calzaghe’s luminous brilliance. Calzaghe’s masterpiece was flawless, Wood’s was not. You can say Johnson was a far sterner test and there is truth to this but the fact remains, Calzaghe fought at a sensational pace and moved in and out with ease, his combination punching and generalship were perfect. Suppose Calzaghe retains his speed, power, finesse and sheer class, will Woods still win? So much depends on how Calzaghe handles the extra poundage. If Woods, has his hands held low and wishes to trade with the smaller man, then he will be walking into Calzaghe’s stunning speed and range. Wood’s best strategy would be to try and negate Calzaghe’s gifts with his height and reach advantages. He would also have to circle and use straight rights. Hopkins against Tarver might be some sort of blueprint he could look at.

Further Things

My concluding part of my Roberto Duran article will be put on sometime toward the end of this week.

I had the honour of meeting Ricky Hatton accidentally outside the arena. I managed to get his signature. I shrunk as I approached him being so nervous and not knowing what to expect. He was very approachable and I thank him for it!

I welcome all your comments.

Article posted on 05.09.2006

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