On 7 November, 2002, Clinton Woods was to have his first taste of the water from across the other side of the pond. It wasnʼt good. Dismantled in six rounds by the great Roy Jones Jr, it took the Sheffield man almost six years to go back again. The water was no nicer.
After 12 rounds of uninspiring boxing last weekend from Woods, a unanimous decision loss to Antonio Tarver crushed any hope of a British super fight with Joe Calzaghe this autumn. Woods will be left with a feeling of missed opportunity and wondering if father time has finally got his number at 35 years old.
I had previously said that ʽTarver is a slick southpaw who has more natural talent and should comfortably outbox woods on the night to a 12 round decision.ʼ This was the opinion of many, however with Tarver's lacklustre recent bouts, the bookies and many people couldnʼt split the pair.
Despite Tarver visibly gasping for breath in between the later rounds, it was Woods who found age the defeating factor as he was unable to get into any sort of rhythm and had very little work rate. Some things just donʼt do what they used to do anymore; it appeared that way last weekend for Woods, and to some extent, Tarver.
Where to go after such a defeat?
No chance of a rematch with Tarver, who will use his remaining two or three fights to make as much money as possible. No chance of the super fight with Calzaghe, even if Joe loses to Bernard Hopkins, unless Calzaghe's performance mirrors that of Wood's last night.
Chad Dawson proved he was no superstar while eking out a decision against Glencoffe Johnson on the same night as the Woods vs. Tarver bout, but will still look way past Woods into the big money fights.
This leaves Clinton with two options; either to work and grind his way back into contention, fighting lower ranked fighters and grafting, the way he did at the start of his career, or if the passion has died, if the body doesnʼt move as fast as it used to, then retirement comes to mind.
Woods has never been a superstar. Lacking any natural talent, he has worked himself to the top. He is, to some extent, a ʽmondeoʼ man; normal, like the rest of us. He is a tribute to hard work and proof that talent isnʼt everything.
He has challenged for a world title four times, winning it on his fourth attempt and has gone on to defend it four times. Maybe now after his fourth loss, it is time for Clinton Woods to hang up his gloves and enjoy the life he has worked so very hard for and remember his proudest moment in the old Sheffield steel works where he dismantled Rico Hoye to become a World Champion.
Whether he will or not remains to be seen.
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