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Thursday, 17 January, 2002, 18:02 GMT
Woodhall calls it a day
Richie Woodhall lost to friend joe calzaghe in his last fight in December 2000
Richie Woodhall's career was plagued by injuries
Richie Woodhall's decision to retire from professional boxing will meet with a mixed reception from those in the sport.

He struggled with injuries throughout his career and was seemingly left with nowhere else to go after losing his last fight to good friend Joe Calzaghe in December 2000.

Most will consider retirement the sensible option after a 12-year professional career, but the 33-year-old from Telford can reflect that he was unfortunate not to achieve more.

  Woodhall stats
Born: April 17, 1968
Height: 6' 1"
Reach: 73"
Hometown: Telford, England
Record: 26-3 (16 KOs)
Division: Middleweight
Titles: WBC Super Middleweight Champion, 1988 Olympic Bronze Medalist

When fit, he enjoyed considerable success. He first gained attention by winning an Olympic bronze in 1988 - beaten in the semi-finals by Roy Jones.

Woodhall then went on to build a 26-3 professional record that included Commonwealth and European middleweight titles, as well as the WBC Super Middleweight crown in 1998.

Ten years on from his heroics in Seoul and five weeks after his 30th birthday, the Englishman outpointed Sugar Boy Malinga to reach the summit of his profession.

His commitment to his home town, family and friends were one of the defining features of Woodhall's career.

He has the names of his three children tattooed on his ankle and lied to them when he took on Malinga, to keep them from worrying as he fought for the title.

Roy Jones outpointed Woodhall in Seoul
Roy Jones outpointed Woodhall in Seoul
After most fights he would visit a local cemetery in Telford to dedicate his victories to Nicky Grice, a friend who died in a car crash. The initials N.G. were embroidered on his shorts.

Woodhall was never going to be anything other than a boxer, beginning his life in the gym at the age of six along with his two brothers and father Len, who would become his trainer.

Never a big puncher, Woodhall's strength was his excellent technique - something that came to the fore in Seoul where he lost to Jones.

A gold medal at the 1990 Commonwealth Games brought a flood of offers to turn professional.

Woodhall beat Malinga to take the world title
Woodhall beat Malinga to take the world title

A proud local boy and passionate West Bromwich Albion fan, Woodhall fought almost exclusively in the Midlands during the first six years of his career.

Commonwealth and European middleweight crowns were won before a world title shot loomed in 1996.

This time he would have to leave the comforting surroundings of home behind, and Woodhall headed for Upper Malboro, Maryland and a clash with American Keith Holmes.

After such a long wait for a crack at the world title, the Englishman displayed typical determination in taking on the fight.

Only two weeks before the encounter, he underwent surgery on his right elbow and was advised by his doctor to quit the sport.

Naturally he fought on, suffering his first professional defeat as Holmes stopped him with just 28 seconds of the contest remaining.

Still without a big pay-day in his career, Woodhall was back in the ring for a world title fight in March 1998, and outpointed Malinga for the WBC Super middleweight title.

Calzaghe was too strong for Woodhall
Calzaghe was too strong for Woodhall

Glen Catley and Vincenzo Nardiello were both beaten in low-key defences before the title was lost to Germany's Markus Beyer over 12 superb rounds in October 1999.

The fight with Calzaghe at the Sheffield Arena represented one last assault on a world title, and he put up a brave performance before the Welshman stopped him in the 10th.

A planned return against Toks Owoh in April 2001 had to be cancelled because Woodhall had two stress fractures at the base of his spine.

The Englishman admitted last summer that his future was in doubt, so the announcement of his retirement is no surprise.

And Woodhall can look back on a career that included plenty of high-points and titles, but which lacked the ultimate prize - a fight at the Hawthorns in front of the West Brom fans.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Boxer Richie Woodhall
"I can't achieve the level of fitness I want to"
See also:

14 Nov 01 |  Boxing
Woodhall brings curtain down
27 Jan 02 |  Boxing
Woodhall sweats on back injury
27 Mar 01 |  Boxing
Woodhall's unification aim
16 Dec 00 |  Other Sports
Calzaghe beats pal to retain title
08 Dec 00 |  Other Sports
Richie in last chance saloon
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