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Clinton Woods


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One of the best British light heavyweights of this century and likely ever, Woods was one of the few Britons to win a world title at this weight in the early 2000's. Back when Roy Jones jr and Antonio Tarver dominated the division, Woods was the underdog who managed to win the IBF title and beat Glen Johnson (back then pretty much considered third best behind Jones and Tarver) and also Julio Cesar Gonzalez, twice. Woods was known for his uppercut which he used effectively and for being an aggressive and hardworking fighter with a good stamina and chin. He was only stopped once, early on in his career, against Jones jr himself. At 6'2, he was also one of the tallest light heavies back then. Here is the story of Sheffield's light heavyweight hero, Clinton Woods.

 

He was born 1 May 1972 in Sheffield and raised there. As he became a father and got a family early, he had to work construction to support his family. He started boxing as a pro in order to provide more money for himself and his family and had his first pro fight on 17 November 1994, aged 22. In his 13th fight, he won the BBBofC Central Area super middle title on points against Craig Joseph. On 6 December 1997, he won the Commonwealth title at 168 as well, by a 12-round decision over Mark Baker at Wembley. However, in his very first defense, he lost the title to David Starie, then an up and comer, on points in 12 rounds. On 13 March 1999, he experienced his first true success when he stopped Crawford Ashley by a TKO 8 to win the European, Commonwealth and British light heavy titles. He would make 2 defenses of the European title (among them stopping former European champion Ole Klemetsen by TKO 9), before vacating it and 2 of the Commonwealth one as well. On 13 September 2001, he beat Yawe Davis, a tricky veteran from Uganda, by UD 12 in an WBC-eliminator. This gave him a crack at the multiple-world champion Roy Jones jr, who also held the WBC title. He fought Jones in Portland, Oregon, on 7 September 2002. Needless to say, he was dominated for 6 rounds before his corner threw the towel in midway thru the 6th. Woods later said he didn't take boxing seriously enough back then and that was the reason for his poor performance.

 

It wasn't until he lost to Glen Johnson, he says, that he really became serious about the game. First, he reeled off 3 wins by knockout, last one against Demetrius Jenkins, once a solid contender. He then faced Johnson for the first time on 7 November 2003 at Hillsborough in Sheffield, with the vacant IBF title on the line. After 12 completed rounds, the fight was proclaimed a split draw. Many believed Johnson deserved the nod however and the two met again in the ring 6 February next year, at Ponds Forge Arena in Sheffield. This time, Johnson was victorious by the scores of 116-112 and 115-113 twice. This made Woods hungry to succeed in the sport and he started working harder at improving his game. On 24 October that year, he stopped Jason De Lisle by TKO 12 after coming off the canvas in round 1, in what was the IBF-eliminator. He then faced the 18-0 and rather hyped Rico Hoye, a tall fighter at 6'3, who was coming off a win over Montell Griffin, for the vacant IBF title. It was on 4 March 2005 in Rotherham, England, when Woods finally became the world champion by giving Hoye a rather one-sided beating and stopping him by TKO 5. In his first defense, he faced another quality fighter from across the ocean, Julio Cesar Gonzalez. He struggled against the very solid and tall Mexican, but in the end got the nod in a decision that many thought was a bit too wide. He again faced De Lisle for his second defense and this time dispatched him with a right uppercut in 6 rounds. He then faced Glen Johnson for the third time for his third defense, 2 September 2006 in Bolton, England. Once again it was a very close and hard fight, but this time Woods emerged as the winner, finally, by a split decision. He made his fourth and final successful defense in a rematch with Julio C Gonzalez and once again won by UD. He finally lost the IBF title to Antonio Tarver, fighting for the first time since the Jones fight in US, Tampa, Florida. It was on 12 April 2008 and Tarver simply proved too good with his superior jab and boxing ability and also used his signature left hand to great effect, hurting Woods a few times-however Woods lasted the distance but lost convincingly on all scorecards.

 

This would be the end of Woods as a prime fighter, but he came back to the ring in February 2009 and beat Elvir Muriqi by UD in an IBF-eliminator, before fighting the new IBF champ Tavoris Cloud on 28 August that year. This time, Woods put on a better performance than against Tarver, but was ultimately outfought by the younger champion in the second half of the fight. Woods was again staggered and hurt a couple times, but lasted the distance, losing by 116-112 on all scorecards. He bid his farewell to boxing after this, aged 37 and knowing he had no chances to get another title shot, much less win it. His record is 42 wins with 25 ko's, 5 losses and 1 draw. He now runs a boxing gym after trying himself in various handyman jobs, despite the fact that he isn't too fond of boxing or watching it. And there he is an anomaly. Woods definitely achieved a lot since his skills were always limited, but he used inside fighting tactics to get the better of his opponents and has defeated a couple guys who likely were better than him skills-wise. Just a hard working guy he always was, in boxing and real life.

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