Boxing: Woodhall considers link with Warren

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Richie Woodhall, the former European and Commonwealth middleweight champion, is considering joining his fellow Midlands fighter, Robert McCracken, and severing his links with the promoter Mickey Duff.

McCracken, now in possession of the Commonwealth title formerly held by Woodhall, revealed last week he was linking up with Frank Warren. Woodhall, whose contract with Duff expired in February, is contemplating the same move.

"I haven't spoken to Mickey Duff and if he doesn't ring me shortly I will contact Frank Warren," Woodhall said. "I gave Mickey first refusal on the understanding he would be in touch with me. That was on 18 March and he hasn't contacted me.

"If there is better money on offer from Frank Warren I will go there. I know he is very interested and it is just a case of wait and see. I hope to have my future arrangements sorted out within the next fortnight."

Duff, who refused to comment on Woodhall's remarks, also recently lost another of his better known fighters when the British super-middleweight champion, Joe Calzaghe, switched to Warren's promotion.

Woodhall has been out of action since last October when beaten by Keith Holmes while challenging for the American's World Boxing Council middleweight title. He needed surgery on his elbow only days before the fight and had a second operation following the contest. Since then, Woodhall has declared his intention to step up to super-middleweight.

David Starie, whose wife Louise is expecting their first child next week, enjoyed an earlier celebration on Tuesday night when he won the vacant British super-middleweight title by stopping Sam Storey in the seventh round at York Hall, Bethnal Green.

Louise, who was at ringside, said tearfully: "Now we want another champion in the family. It's due next Tuesday."

Unbeaten Starie, 22, thanked the "body plan" of his manager, Gordon Holmes, who explained: "Storey kept his hands up, but that left a gap around his midrift. So I told David to go for the body and it paid off. The right took all the steam out of old fox Storey."

Storey, 33, who has had two spells as champion, said: "I tried to rough him up, but it didn't work. He's such a strong boy and so cool."

Starie's vociferous fans had added backing from Ipswich Town's football team, with whom he trains. The Ipswich midfielder Simon Milton said: "This is our first professional boxing night. David is a friend to the lads and we won't miss him again."

Starie's comprehensive defeat of the veteran Ulsterman sets up a return bout with Dean Francis, the No 1 challenger. "I beat him as an amateur and I'll beat him again," Starie said.

His punch rate in only his 14th professional contest told its own story. He threw 310 punches to Storey's 177 and landed 59 per cent to 27 per cent. The referee, John Keane, had Starie ahead by five rounds to one when the end came.