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Page last updated at 20:15 GMT, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 21:15 UK

Woods trades punches for trowel

Jason DeLisle and Clinton Woods
Woods lost just five times in a 48-fight career

By Nabil Hassan

Life for former IBF light-heavyweight world champion Clinton Woods has come full circle.

He has swapped trading blows in the ring for a return to life skimming walls with a trowel working part-time as a plasterer.

"Financially I've done very well out of boxing," Woods told BBC Sport. "I've a lovely house and I rent out a couple of others. I've done OK.

"I'm not a millionaire and I'll probably go back to plastering two days a week. It's what I did before and I don't mind doing it again.

"I also want to spend more time with my kids," added Woods referring to three-year-old Jude and two-year-old Lola.

"I've had offers to stay in the sport and train some kids and up and coming boxers but I don't know if I want to be stuck in a gym any more, I'm done with that."

It sums up the man from Sheffield who, after 15 years in the circus that is boxing, is unchanged and unaffected by the big purses that have come his way.

If Woods' retirement was low key, his 48-fight career was anything but, as he won a succession of titles and reached the very top of his profession.

The 37-year-old talks proudly when describing the glorious night that saw him win the European, British and Commonwealth titles when defeating Crawford Ashley in 1999.

There was also the highlight of his career, a fifth-round victory over American Rico Hoye to claim the IBF light-heavyweight title in 2005, as well as the coup of defeating top-rated Jamaican Glen Johnson a year later.

Fighting undisputed light-heavyweight champion Roy Jones Jr in 2002 is another night that Woods looks back on with fond memories, despite being on the receiving end of the American's full array of tricks.


But with the highs came the lows and losses to Antonio Tarver in 2008 and Tavoris Cloud in August are nights that still haunt Woods.

It was the replay of his points defeat by Cloud in Hollywood, Florida that persuaded Woods to retire.

"At the time I actually thought the fight was close, I was that focused and it was that intense that I thought I had a chance," Woods told BBC Sport.

"But I got home and watched the replay and that was when I decided to retire.

"It was a good fight and I was never tired, but when I watched it and saw the speed of his shots and how young and quick he was that was when I said to myself, 'I don't want to do this any more'.

"I took some big shots that I didn't even remember. I just don't want to be doing that at this stage of my life.

"So it's all over. It's finished. I've retired from boxing. I've been doing it for 15 years now and that is a long time in this sport. It's time for something else."

I've had offers to stay in the sport and train some kids and up and coming boxers but I don't know if I want to be stuck in a gym any more, I'm done with that

Clinton Woods

Woods made his professional debut in 1994 with a points victory over Dave Proctor and in 48 professional fights he lost just five times.

"When I look back at my career I went into the fight game not thinking I was going to win anything and I ended my career having won the lot - British, European, Commonwealth and world titles," said Woods.

"Winning the world title was a dream. I had a few failures first but I worked hard to get my chance. I can't remember much from that night, it's all a bit of blur, but certain things do stick in my mind.

"I remember after the first round I thought to myself, 'he can't catch me'. I knew he was a big puncher but I was too sharp and too quick for him and knew that if he couldn't catch me he'd run out of ideas.

"When I caught him in the fifth I thought, 'it's only a matter of time now', and when the referee stopped it the feeling was indescribable. It wasn't the biggest crowd, but the place was so compact, it felt like I was boxing in front of 100,000."

Clinton Woods
Woods won the IBF world title in 2005 after defeating Rico Hoye

Beating Ashley was another highlight, with the Sheffield man describing it as the first time he realised he could make a career out of boxing, a career that took him to America to face ring-legend Jones.

"A lot of people dodged him but I never shirked a challenge and fought him at his peak," said Woods.

"I probably enjoyed the fight more than I should have done. I gave him a good fight for five or six rounds and I'm very proud of that.

"It was in front of 16,000 people and who would have thought that a skinny boy from Sheffield would end up in a major fight like that against one of the best boxers in the world?

"His next fight was when he won the world heavyweight title. That's how good he was at the time."

Woods has now been officially recognised as a legend of Sheffield by the City Council and will be honoured with a plaque, which will be placed alongside one of broadcaster, actor and comedian Michael Palin outside the city hall.

As understated as ever though, Woods would prefer to be remembered by the words that were uttered to him by his final foe Cloud: "You were the hardest fighter I've ever met."

see also
Cloud win foils Woods title hopes
29 Aug 09 |  Boxing
Cleverly has Woods in his sights
17 Aug 09 |  Boxing
Woods gets IBF world title chance
28 May 09 |  Boxing
Woods keeps crown after thriller
29 Sep 07 |  Boxing
Woods beats Muriqi in eliminator
14 Feb 09 |  Boxing
Rejuvenated Woods changes trainer
14 Jul 08 |  Boxing
Woods may quit after Tarver loss
13 Apr 08 |  Boxing
Woods hits back to stun Johnson
02 Sep 06 |  Boxing
Woods finally lands world title
05 Mar 05 |  Boxing
Awesome Jones outclasses Woods
08 Sep 02 |  Boxing

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