CLINTON Woods was 25 years old when his promising career suffered a major hic-cup.
On a cold March night in Hull, 1998, he lost a routine-looking bout against Suffolk super middleweight David Starie. It was Woods’ first loss after 20 fights and made him realise he had to perform every ahead or he’d never make the big time.
History shows he learned his lesson. He went on to have 28 more fights and was IBF light heavyweight world champion for four years.
Now, at 39 years of age, Woods finds himself training the next generation of fighters, at his Westfield gym.
His top prospect is Liam Cameron, who also lost his unbeaten tag earlier, this year, to London light middleweight Erick Ochieng. Woods is now masterminding Cameron’s response to the set-back he overcame himself. It is going well. Cameron has won a four-rounder and a six-rounder since his shock loss.
But there is a long way to go and a lot of hard work ahead for the 21-year-old student.
“Liam has got the same ability to bounce back as I had, as long as he continues to listen and learn” said Woods.
“I take a hands-on approach with him. If he is dropping his right hand or leaving himself open for a big punch I jump into the ring and attack him.
“His fitness is much better than it was but he has a lot to pick up if he is ever going to be a champion. Right now we are working on his inside-fighting, he can be terrible at that” said the ex champ.
“He has a lot of class and is a good long-range fighter. But there will be times when he is tired and has to dig in, on the ropes, go toe to toe with a tough kid and get some body shots in. While he’s brilliant on the back foot he needs to learn to toughen up. Sometimes he is too laid-back; I tell him ‘get mad’ and whack me.
“But I am happy with how it’s going. I watched two middleweights on TV the other day in a domestic title fight and Liam was not far away from their class.”
Cameron fights on a Dennis Hobson bill at Don Valley Stadium on December 16.