ON this day 23-years ago in his native Sheffield, at the Pinegrove Country Club, 22-year-old Clinton Woods, boxing as a super-middleweight, punched for pay for the very first time. Woods, who had a tough childhood and was an admitted tearaway, would go on to achieve plenty, even surpassing his own goals. Yet the future British, Commonwealth, European and world champion started with little or no fanfare and boxed in humble surroundings.
After a six-round points win over Dave Proctor, Clinton would box regularly, winning 18 more bouts between his debut and December of 1997, before losing on points to Dave Starie (a man Clinton would years later call the toughest man he had ever sparred) in a Commonwealth super-middleweight title challenge in March of 1998. Moving up in weight to the more natural and comfortable light-heavyweight division – a weight class Woods would fight in for the remainder of his career – Woods would not lose again for well over four years.
One year after moving up seven-pounds, Woods would claim, in one night, the Commonwealth, British and European titles. Facing Leeds’ Crawford Ashley in Manchester, Woods scored the biggest win of his by now 22 fight career. Scoring an 8th-round TKO, Woods really saw his boxing reach its potential. The win over Ashley resonates all these years later, as Clinton explained to Boxing News a year or so ago: