Boxing: Woodhall given food for thought

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Richie Woodhall will have history on his side when he finally makes his long awaited attempt to win the World Boxing Council world middleweight title in Maryland tonight.

Woodhall, who won a world title eliminator in February last year, faces the American champion, Keith Holmes, in the knowledge that the previous two title holders have both been beaten in their first defences.

Julian Jackson was dethroned by Quincy Taylor, who subsequently lost the title to Holmes - who will now be making his first defence against Woodhall.

Woodhall, who has never fought abroad before as a professional, accepts that tackling Holmes, a 6ft 2in southpaw, in what is effectively the champion's own back yard will not be easy. Holmes has been beaten just once in 29 fights with 19 of his victories inside the distance.

The unbeaten former European and Commonwealth champion said: "Waiting for the fight has been very difficult, but now that the chance is here I know that I cannot afford to let it slip by. I have seen Holmes fight on television and I don't think there is anything there for me to worry about, as he is more awkward than devastating. The only real problem could be his height, as he is a bit taller than me and has a longer reach.

"The main worry has been trying to keep my weight down as they keep giving you so much food. But I weighed in at 11st 6lb in the gym, so everything is on target."

Chris Eubank ends his year-long retirement in Cairo tonight. The 30-year- old former super-middleweight world champion fights Argentina's Luis Dionisio Barrera at 12st 6lb, in between the super and light-heavyweight limits.

n Ken Jones's feature on the Ali v Frazier rivalry will appear next week.