Boxing: Woods to weigh up US options as world champion

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The Independent Online

Shortly after midnight on Friday Clinton Woods acquired a million-dollar future when he stopped the American Rico Hoye to win the International Boxing Federation light-heavyweight title at a steelworks near Rotherham.

Shortly after midnight on Friday Clinton Woods acquired a million-dollar future when he stopped the American Rico Hoye to win the International Boxing Federation light-heavyweight title at a steelworks near Rotherham.

Woods, who was having his fourth attempt at winning a world title, added his name to the preposterous list of 19 other British-based so-called world champions, but unlike all of the others Woods is in possession of the only belt that people in America are interested in.

By midday on Saturday, Woods and his manager, Dennis Hobson, had received three offers to fight in America - all would have been extremely lucrative - and in each case Woods would start with a 50-50 chance of winning.

The problem with Britain's other world champions is that they own a variety of belts that are virtually meaningless in the United States and, consequently, there is little or no interest from American promoters - or, more importantly, American television companies - to put our fighters, with their second-rate belts, in against American prospects.

Woods now has to sit down and decide whether to travel to America or reopen negotiations with a representative from Frank Warren's company and attempt to make a fight against Joe Calzaghe. In theory, a fight against Calzaghe would be a fantastic boost for the British boxing business, but if the sums fail to add up there is no way that Woods will allow himself to become the man that Calzaghe fights in a last attempt to establish his credibility.

Late on Friday night Woods fought a perfect fight, slowly draining away all of Hoye's resistance to leave him with a broken heart in the arms of the referee with just one second remaining in round five. Hoye entered the ring as the betting favourite and unbeaten in 18 fights - including 14 knock-outs - but Woods made him look like a boy and that is why the American public are likely to be the ones to see him in action next.

* Jose Luis Castillo and Jeff Lacy both made successful title defences in Los Angeles on Saturday night. Castillo stopped Julio Diaz in the 10th round, his 52nd professional win, to retain his World Boxing Council lightweight title, while, on the undercard, Lacy defended his IBF super-middleweight title with a seventh-round stoppage of Rubin Williams.

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