Woods gives the elbow to Gonzalez
Clinton Woods is desperate to put his injury nightmare behind him with a successful defence of his IBF light-heavyweight title against Mexican Julio Cesar Gonzalez in Sheffield tonight.
A recurring elbow injury has prevented 35-year-old Woods from returning to the ring since his career-defining split decision win over former undisputed champion Glen Johnson in Bolton over a year ago.
And it scuppered a dream date on the Ricky Hatton undercard in Las Vegas in June, with Woods instead forced to stay at home and undergo painful corrective surgery.
Woods said: “It feels so long since the Johnson fight that I just can’t wait to get back in there and do it. It just feels incredible to train for a fight without any pain because I have been in pain ever since I won the title.
“I kept in shape training while I was off. But I never get out of shape because I’m always on my feet. We moved into a new house and that needed renovating, so that was very physical too.”
Woods first sustained his injury in the course of claiming the vacant title against Rico Hoye in 2005, and suffered with it in the course of three defences including a points win over Gonzalez in September of that year.
Woods added: “I did the injury soon after I won the world title and had to battle through the pain after that. During the Johnson fight the tendon completely ripped away from the bone.
“I felt it ripping during the fight, and afterwards my arm was so swollen it was as big as my leg. In the first operation they cut off the dead tendon so it could grow back, but it went again so I needed more surgery.”
Despite his injury, Woods largely controlled his first fight against Gonzalez, who has subsequently rebounded with three straight wins to earn another mandatory crack at the title.
Woods added: “The last time I fought him I hardly did any sparring because of the elbow problem.”