On this day Curtis Woodhouse won the British title

Curtis Woodhouse
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Curtis Woodhouse fulfilled a promise to his late father on February 22, 2014. Read John Dennen's ringside report from a wild night in Hull

IN boxing, hearts are broken just as often as knuckles. Sometimes however, this hard sport makes dreams a reality too. It was an odd choice when Curtis Woodhouse turned his back on a career as a professional footballer to pursue boxing. He faced a long fight for credibility and even then his aim to eventually become the British champion seemed too lofty a goal.

Derry Mathews had ended Woodhouse’s tilt for the Commonwealth lightweight title in four rounds last year.
In Darren Hamilton, the holder of the British light-welterweight crown, Curtis was pitching himself against an established champion, deemed both bigger and the better boxer. But to prepare himself, Woodhouse had enlisted the “dream team” as he called them, with Adam Booth and Gary Logan assisting Ryan Rhodes in his corner.

Both men scaled 9st 13 3/4lbs. Hamilton crept forward, squatting in a low stance but scuttling along, his left glove cupped around his head for protection while his scorpion-like right stung straight out as a cross or frequently effective uppercut.

Woodhouse, however, settled into the contest. Getting his jab to connect built his confidence. Though Darren thumped him back, Curtis chipped away at him, sliding his own right over. When Hamilton caught him with a heavy shot, Woodhouse summoned his resolve to ensure those direct hits did not go unanswered. It made for an even fight. Hamilton parried punches, pulling his arms up in deft defence, but the Yorkshire crowd’s cheers punctuated Woodhouse’s successes. Darren always made sure he was off of his stool first between rounds, raring to go. Hamilton drove the Driffield man into the ropes, fixing him there. His right hook banged again and again into Woodhouse’s side. He launched another heavy right uppercut to rock Curtis but the former footballer did not buckle. Woodhouse emptied the well in the last round, pouring out all his energy, throwing everything.

A big right caught Hamilton and Woodhouse just barrelled forward as the crowd roared him on. As the final bell tolled, Curtis exhausted, sank into the arms of trainer Rhodes.

The decision was split. Michael Alexander had it 116-113 for Hamilton. Steve Gray, by 116-115, and Marcus McDonnell, by 116-114, saw it for Woodhouse, now 22-6 (13). It was the fulfilment of a life in boxing. Before his father passed away, Woodhouse had promised he would win the British title. Held up before the ecstatic crowd, fist in the air, his face bruised and tired, Curtis had kept his word. Woodhouse confirmed his retirement and, if it is over, it’s a real life fairytale ending.

“I honestly can’t believe it,” Curtis declared. “I had the audacity to tell everyone that I’d be British champion.

“I’d like to dedicate this to my late dad. I miss him,” he continued tearfully. “Every promise my dad made me, he kept. I wanted to make sure I kept my promise to him.”

It’s probably churlish at this point to say that I thought Bristol’s Hamilton, now 14-3 (3), had edged it by a point. Not that I’d fault the result. This was a close, riveting fight. Plenty of rounds could have gone either way and Woodhouse’s hard work, heart and desire won him the judges’ vote on the night. Hamilton, I’m sure, will be back. Howard Foster refereed.

Tommy Coyle escaped from Daniel Brizuela after one of the craziest confrontations you’re likely to see. It’s hard to believe someone can be dropped four times, have points deducted by the referee twice and still, somehow, emerge victorious. Having said that, the Argentine hit the deck four times himself and had a point taken from him for a low blow too.

Brizuela was smaller, 9st 4 3/4lbs to Coyle’s 9st 7 1/4lbs, but he was nimble, hitting fast with painful force. Fleet footwork darted him in and around the Hull favourite. In the second round Daniel’s double jab set up a stern straight right that took Tommy off his feet. Not overly hurt, he rose promptly.

It was a very different story in the sixth round. Brizuela swarmed round Coyle with another sharp combination, a left hook to the guts blasting the oxygen out of him. On his hands and knees, Coyle was badly winded. He hauled himself up at referee Steve Gray’s count of eight, still visibly hurt. Seeing his distress, Brizuela tore after him. He sustained that pressure, another left hook slammed into Tommy’s body, snatching the air from him once again, dropping him. It looked like it was all over.

But Coyle would not stay down, just making it up in time. Daniel faltered at the sight of Tommy’s apparently limitless gluttony for punishment. Coyle made it into the seventh round. His strength pushed Brizuela back as the latter’s output diminished. In the eighth round he lost a point for a low blow, unfortunate but understandable given the frenetic action. A hefty right sent the Argentine into the ropes and chasing after him, Coyle’s follow-up knocked him down. In the ninth, Brizuela hit below the belt and had to wait sheepishly as he lost a point and Tommy recovered.

The violence reached a new pitch in the 11th. Brizuela pushed forward, his left hook floored Coyle again. But Tommy once more rose and returned fire, with dramatic effect. He loaded up with a massive right and connected, putting Brizuela down. His left hook hit home again and more big rights floored
the Argentine. The Hull man charged forward with wild swings, everything behind them, desperate to end affairs there and then. But in yet another twist in that mad 11th round, the referee deducted a point from Coyle for hitting on the break.

Into the last and a heavy right caught the Argentine’s head. Coyle’s left scooped up, sweeping Brizuela off his feet.

He rose but the referee waved it off at 1-07 of the 12th. Given the crazed brawl that had preceded the stoppage, Brizuela perhaps deserved to fight to the end. But Steve Gray had time to assess his condition and was best placed to make the call. The unused judges were Klaus Griesel, Marcus McDonnell and Holger Wiemann. The Argentine is 25-2-2 (8), Coyle advances to 18-2 (8). “I think they could have let it go on, he was a tough kid,” Coyle, who retained an IBF International title, said afterwards. “I was getting to him. There was no stopping me in that 12th round.”

The “Iron Duck”, Scott Moises (9st 7 1/4lbs) sauntered up to the ring, smiling as he danced through the ropes. That smile became increasingly forced as Luke Campbell’s swift punches marked up the face around it. The Olympic gold medallist (9st 8lbs 15oz) was too fast for him. Luke edged forward, his southpaw left smacked Scott back.

In the second round, Campbell’s cross banged Moises down into the ropes. Upon the resumption, a barrage of fast punches pattered off Moises as Scott sat back in the ropes, bobbing from side to side. The Aylsham man pedalled away from Campbell, boxing resolutely off the back foot. Not that it brought him much success. Luke shrugged off a right hand, dominating the rounds completely but found it hard to prise apart Scott’s defence for sustained assaults.

Going past five rounds for the first time, Campbell upped his intensity again. Another hard left hurt Scott in the eighth and last round. Luke fired a barrage of punches. He stayed on him, a body shot thumping Moises down. Immediately on resumption, Campbell pounced on him, flinging fast fists and prompting referee Michael Alexander to wave it off at 1-38. Campbell is 5-0 (4), Moises 8-9-1 (2).

Fighting for the vacant British super-bantamweight title, Gavin McDonnell backed off as Leigh Wood (8st 9 3/4lbs) prowled towards him. In the first round, Doncaster’s McDonnell (8st 8 1/2lbs) did land a right to the body as the Ingle-trained fighter lost his footing and referee Marcus McDonnell took up the count. But otherwise Nottingham’s Wood was in charge. He slid quality shots through. Straight punches forced Gavin to the edges of the ring. A cut opened on McDonnell’s left eyebrow. Leigh bounced easy blows off him, his right hook catching McDonnell to the body.

But McDonnell changed the whole flow of the contest in the sixth round. A left hook snagged Wood’s chin and the right snapped down after it. Gavin saw Leigh was hurt and wide open. He battered Wood back. Leigh let shot after shot through. Eventually he tried to hold; the referee separated them at once. McDonnell came on, slugging Wood all over the ring, his head rocking, his defence evaporated and Marcus McDonnell waved it off at 2-02 of the sixth. Gavin follows in twin brother Jamie McDonnell’s footsteps to become a British champion. The unrequired judges were Steve Gray, Howard Foster and Michael Alexander. Wood, 11-1 (4), suffered a first defeat. Gavin is 11-0-1 (4).

Hungarian visitors to British boxing rings are rarely competitive, but Lazlo Fazekas (10st 3lbs 3oz) was an exception. He caught Zak Collins (10st 3lbs 7oz) with hard, clear shots. The man from Goole pressed on, working industriously to fire back. Zak might have been a touch unfortunate not to get the decision, Michael Alexander saw it 58-57 for Fazekas, but these will prove to be six valuable learning rounds for Collins. Zak dips to 8-1-1 (1), Fazekas is 18-12-1 (13).

Another close bout saw Hull’s Joel Haigh draw 56-56 with Gloucester’s Andy Harris (9st 8 1/4lbs). In the second round it looked like Haigh (9st 11lbs 15oz) slipped, but referee Michael Alexander ruled it a knockdown. Harris was undone by point deductions, for hitting on the break, in the third and fourth rounds. Joel tended to rush forward, throw a couple of shots, but career into a clinch. Harris, 3-10-1, ducked his attacks, popped blows back, but just missed out on a win. Haigh is now 7-0-2.

Manchester’s Hosea Burton (13st 0 1/4lbs) was very sparing in his work. A ramrod jab and heavy right were enough to bring a controlled 40-36 victory over Bangor-based Ugandan Moses Matovu, 4-37-4 and 13st 6 1/2lbs, but it was a quiet four-rounder. Burton is now 8-0 (2). Howard Foster refereed.

Liverpool’s Tony Dodson (12st 4 1/2lbs) warmed up for his Commonwealth title fight next month with a four-round win, 40-36 for Mr. Foster, over Scunthorpe’s Jody Meikle, 7-45-2 (2) and 12st 6 3/4lbs. Dodson is now 30-8-1 (14).

Hull’s Charlie Payton, outweighed by 9st 6 1/2lbs to 140lbs 6oz, made an impressive professional debut. He banged a straight right through to knock Nuneaton southpaw Kristian Laight, 8-167-7, over in the first round. Payton set about him with bursts of eye-catching aggression to win 40-35 after four rounds for referee Michael Alexander.

New Malden southpaw Lerrone Richards (12st 2 1/4lbs) looked sharp going 3-0 (1), sitting down on his shots, picking out smooth one-twos as Mark Till, 2-5 (1) and 12st 2lbs, from Stoke on Trent, bored in close, Richards winning 40-36 over four for referee Howard Foster.

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