by James Slater – It has been over six months since the unbeaten Tavoris Cloud burst well and truly onto the world light-heavyweight scene with his dominant stoppage win over the unbelievably tough Julio Cesar Gonazalez, and such a great performance was the 27-year-old’s that the fans can’t wait to see him in action again. In becoming the very first man to halt the former WBO 175-pound boss from Mexico, Cloud, 19-0(18) won himself an IBF light-heavyweight title eliminator..
Six months or so on from his career-best win, and the man from Florida is still waiting to see when he will get his crack at the IBF belt. Chad Dawson, who meets former ruler Antonio Tarver in a rematch, is the current holder, and a Cloud challenge of “Bad” Chad sure would be an interesting fight. However, Britain’s Clinton Woods – who just came back with a fine and clear win over Elvir Muriqi- is also a man who is in line to face the IBF king. Having won an eliminator of his own against Muriqi, Woods could well meet Cloud in a final eliminator for the title.
This too, would be an interesting match-up – the young lion who can hit like anything, against the old lion who can take a shot like anything. The winner of such a fight would have earned himself a shot at the southpaw world champ, that’s for sure. But in recent interviews, Woods has expressed his belief that after he beats Tarver again (if he does so), then Dawson will give up the IBF crown he holds and vacate. I’m not sure why Clinton feels this is what will happen, but maybe Woods has some inside info. In any case, if he’s right it would almost certainly mean that he and Cloud will meet, but for the vacant world title!
So who would win, the man from Sheffield, or his rival from Tallahassee?
Both guys have a common opponent in Gonzalez. Woods, 42-4-1(24) twice out-pointed the Mexican in world title defences, and Cloud brutalised him with a 10th round stoppage. Woods certainly faced a fresher Gonzalez than did Cloud though. Their respective results against the 32-year-old with a chin to rival even the disgraced Antonio Margarito aside, Woods and Cloud have nothing in common. The Brit is by far the more experienced pro, with over twice as many fights under his belt than the man who is nine years his junior. And let us not forget that Woods was a good world champion (putting his admittedly poor, losing defence against Tarver aside).
Would Woods have too much know-how for the physically very strong, yet still learning Cloud? Then again, at 36 and after so many hard fights (three gruelling encounters with Glen Johnson have surely taken their toll on Clinton), could Woods simply age overnight?
Either way you look at it, a Cloud-Woods clash, either in a bout that will be for the IBF belt outright, or in a bout that will be a final step towards challenging for it, is a solid match-up. Can you say, pick ’em?
Let’s hope the fight can be made, either in Britain or in the States – I’m sure both gutsy fighters would jump right at the prospect.