Monday, June 20, 2005

Woods and Gonzalez to vie for IBF light heavyweight belt

By JE Grant

Clinton Woods, 37-3-1 (23 KOs), is scheduled to defend his IBF light heavyweight title against former WBO light heavyweight belt-holder Mexican Julio Gonzalez, 38-2 (23 KOs) this fall.

Of course the reason I have not listed the Englishman Woods as “champion” is because he gained the belt as a result of the stripping of the title from Glen Johnson.

Johnson, you see, had the audacity to want to defend his title against the number one light heavyweight in the world, Antonio Tarver (who was himself stripped of the WBA and WBC titles for fighting Johnson).

It is, therefore, difficult to view this fight as anything other than a match-up of two reasonably able top 10 contenders.

Woods’ primary claim to fame to date is a draw with Johnson (Nov. 11, 2003). He was also soundly drubbed and embarrassed by Roy Jones in his sole attempt at the real title (Sept. 7, 2002).

It appears even Woods understands that the real champion today is Tarver who regained his claim with a tough win over Johnson this past Saturday.

“Tarver is back on top of the tree now,” Woods is quoted as saying on the BBC webpage today.

Gonzalez is noted as being the first man to beat Dariusz Michalczewski (who was 48-0 at the time) to capture the WBO belt. He also holds wins over Johnson and Montell Griffin.

(I’m aware that some contend that the title represented the lineal championship. While the claim is not outlandish, it should be noted that German promoters studiously avoided any suggestion that Michalczewski face Jones who captured every other belt imaginable).

He lost the title in his first defense against Hungarian Zsolt Erdei.

His other loss was a lopsided decision against Jones (July 28, 2001) for all the other belts in the division.

It is a shame that quality fights such as Woods-Gonzalez can be overshadowed by the silliness of the sanctioning bodies. This fight should stand on its own merit as being between two fighters actually contending for a real title match with Tarver.

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