Boxing: Woodhall puts weight behind amateurs

Johnny Nelson, the current World Boxing Organisation cruiserweight champion, will watch carefully when Richie Woodhall takes up his new position as the Amateur Boxing Association's high performance manager from 1 April.

Johnny Nelson, the current World Boxing Organisation cruiserweight champion, will watch carefully when Richie Woodhall takes up his new position as the Amateur Boxing Association's high performance manager from 1 April.

Woodhall will join Great Britain's current Olympic boxing coach Terry Edwards, who is also the ABA's high performance director, on a year-long contract which will include the World Cup in Moscow in June, the World Championships in October in China and 18 other international events before the end of 2005.

The pair will hopefully be able to shape a strong squad of English boxers for next year's Commonwealth Games, which take place in Melbourne in March. But their main focus will be the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Nelson had a chance of joining the duo, but he decided there were still two or three lucrative fights available to him.

"I'm honoured that I was even considered to be part of Great Britain's international amateur boxing future, but the time is just not right for me,'' the Sheffield fighter said.

Woodhall won a bronze medal at the Seoul Olympics in 1988 and a Commonwealth Games gold in 1990. He and Edwards will join forces for the first time during two matches against Cuba in April.

"Throughout my professional career, I never took my eyes off the amateur scene, and when the position became available it never took much persuading for me to apply,'' said Woodhall, who held the World Boxing Council super-middleweight title as a professional.

It appears, though, that both Edwards and Woodhall have reluctantly accepted that Amir Khan, a glorious silver medallist at last year's Olympics in Athens, will in future box as a professional.

Khan, 18, has been spotted in Manchester training with the World Boxing Union light-welterweight champion Ricky Hatton.

However, Khan insists he will have at least one more bout as an amateur, when he is the main attraction on 16 April at Bolton's Reebok Stadium in a show which has been organised to raise funds for Khan's amateur boxing club, Bury.

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