BOXING: Curtis Woodhouse and Gavin McDonnell live out British title dream

Curtis Woodhouse celebrates his British title win
Curtis Woodhouse celebrates his British title win
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Dreams do come true - as Curtis Woodhouse and Gavin McDonnell both now know so well.

The two fighters are each clutching a Lord Lonsdale belt, each at wildly different stages of their career after earning the right to be called British champion.

For Doncaster’s McDonnell, his dismantling stoppage of a game Leigh Wood could only be just the beginning of something very special indeed as the wider boxing public begin to take him seriously as more than Jamie McDonnell’s twin brother.

For light-welterweight Woodhouse it is dream achieved and done. His split decision victory over Darren Hamilton was his final fight, the curtain coming down on an extraordinary career in the best possible fashion.

“How can I ever top what has happened, this will never get better for me,” Woodhouse said. “I wanted to bow out as champion and aim to stick to that. There’s a rumour going around - that I can neither confirm or deny - I had a £5,000 bet on myself to win the British title at 50/1. The drinks are on me baby.

“When I was 10 years old, they told me I can’t be a footballer, everyone laughed at me.

“When I said I was going to be a professional boxer, everyone laughed at me again.

“I had the audacity to say I was going to be a British champion, I honestly can’t believe this has happened.”

It was a long time ago that Woodhouse ceased to be merely the sideshow attraction of a footballer-turned-boxer.

After an enthralling fight in Hull on Saturday night, the 33-year-old will rightly be remembered as accomplished in both fields. Almost every round was closely fought as Woodhouse met Hamilton, determined to win the belt outright in his third defence.

A stoppage looked unlikely and there was little surprise when the split decision outcome was announced. Woodhouse got the nod from two judges by one and two points respectively while the other gave it Hamilton by three.

Rising star McDonnell has shown improvement in each of his fights, particularly over the last 18 months on stepping up in class. There was little doubting that Wood was his best and most troublesome opponent yet.

But McDonnell more than dealt with what the Ingle-trained fighter had to give before unleashing a sixth round assault for which Wood had no answer.

Wood was felled in a contentious first round knockdown but recovered to look strong over the opening three rounds, his busier work putting him ahead of McDonnell. The Dunscroft man responded well in the fourth, increasingly absorbing Wood’s assaults on his gloves and beginning to string shots together of his own.

After an even fifth came an explosive sixth. A right hook sparked a barrage which tore Wood apart and brought an early finish.

McDonnell’s super bantamweight title triumph sealed a piece of history with brother Jamie - the first time identical twin brothers have both held British titles.