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Concannon's Corner

Personal Biography

Johnson Beats Woods in IBF 175 Title Rematch
By Paul Concannon at Ringside

After battling Clinton Woods to an exciting draw in November of last year, US based Jamaican Glenn Johnson returned to Sheffield in fine style on Saturday night and this time beat the home-town hero on a close but richly deserved unanimous decision. 

The hard-luck that had dogged Johnson in his three previous IBF titles tries at middle (a credible defeat to a peak Bernard Hopkins), super-middle (a squeaker to the German, Sven Ottke) and light-heavyweight (the aforementioned draw with Woods) finally ran dry as Johnson left no room for doubt with a convincing display of boxing and slugging that saw the judges render tallies of 116-112 and 115-113 (twice) all in favour of the visitor. 

Despite landing some great right-handers in an evenly contested first and rocking Woods with a big combination in the second, the Jamaican was noticeably more measured than the rampaging aggressor that showed up in the initial contest.

The third was a good one for Woods as he answered Johnson’s heavier single shots with sharp combinations and an effective countering left hook to body and head. The fourth was another good round for woods where his variety and sharp countering suggested he might just have the blueprint to get the job done. 

Strangely, after that promising fourth round, the Sheffield box-fighter allowed his work-rate to drop considerably and I gave the next three rounds to the visitor who was more purposeful and showed the greater desire, his heavy right-hand punch being especially effective.  Woods had his moments but was generally out-worked and outfought. 

Woods had a decent round 8, scoring with some heavy shots to the body and going at the Johnson from time to time with eye-catching bursts of punching.  The ninth round saw Woods peg the gap back to just one point on my card as he scored busily with his fast rat-a-tat flurries, though he was forced to take some heavy hooks towards the end of the round I felt his earlier dominance caught the eye. 

Just when it seemed that Woods was getting back into the fight, the visitor showed a champions heart to take rounds 10 and 11 by virtue of a busy attack, as the Sheffield man switched off disappointingly. This allowed Johnson a luxurious 3 round edge (on my card) going into the last.

With the Woods corner pleading with their man to go for broke in the last, Woods battled all out with Johnson in an exciting final round. Woods had floored Johnson with a terrific right hand in the last round of their first bout (it was ruled a slip), but this time there would be no 11th hour heroics and Johnson stayed with him the whole 3 minutes.

The unanimous verdict in favour of Johnson was well received by the sporting Sheffield crowd; the one-time journeyman with nine career losses (all at an excellent level and many of them controversial) had finally hit the jackpot, and takes home the IBF belt and with it the opportunity to make some good money and secure his family’s future.  He’s an excellent pro who deserves every cent he earns.

As for Woods, who like Johnson has had a great career, this was his third world title try and as close a bout as this was (just two points on my card at the end) he seems destined to be one of the sports nearly men.  He could feature in some interesting bouts both domestically and in Europe but after battling the likes of Roy Jones and those two struggles with Johnson, it’s difficult to see Clinton having the desire to go back to the drawing board.  He gave it a good try but just didn’t do enough; the simple truth is Johnson wanted it that bit more. 

Should Woods choose to retire, he will leave the sport as a former British, Commonwealth and European champion and three-time world title challenger who earned his right to fight for those belts the hard way.  I wish him luck in whatever he decides to do next.

Pick of the undercard saw Manchester’s veteran slugger Carl Thompson and South African Sebastian Rothmann stage an early candidate for fight of the year for the latter’s IBO cruiserweight trinket.  Thompson pulled out a miracle right- hand bomb in round nine to flatten the talented visitor who has been the scourge of British cruiserweights over the last few years. 

Thompson took a terrific pounding from the pole-like jab of the world-class Rothmann over the first three rounds and many in press row, myself included felt the bout could have been stopped in favour of the champion even at this early stage.  At 39, nobody wanted to see old warhorse Thompson take a beating from a younger, fresher opponent.  After doing slightly better in round four Thompson was hurt and floored by a countering right hand off the ropes just before the bell and the end seemed close for the old champion.

Amazingly, it was Rothmann who hit the deck in round 5 after again hurting Thompson at the end of the round with his own right, a huge countering right off the ropes followed by a right uppercut sent the champion on to his knees right on the bell leaving him wobbly as he was receiving the eight count.

The sixth round saw Thompson floored again by a stream of rights but the knockdown, clear to us all in press row was ruled a slip by Richey Davies.

Rothmann took rounds 7 and 8 on my card as he repeatedly found the aggressive Thompson’s head with jabs and the odd right-hand for good measure.

In round nine, all hell broke loose, the cocky South-African, who had taunted Thompson much of the way through the contest, tortured him with a stream of jabs before hurting the old champion yet again with a right cross that made Carl back off against the ropes.  Rothmann applied two more rights for good measure and with many at ringside screaming for the fight to be stopped, Carl broke loose and fired that fight saving punch to send the champion flat on his face.  Phew!  It was as dramatic a turnaround as I have ever witnessed and it sent the Ponds Forge leisure centre into rapturous and thunderous approval.  Long time and respected boxing scribes sitting next to me at ringside were left open-mouthed at the sudden turn of events.

Whether this was a victory at too high a cost for Thompson remains to be seen, but for now, this brave and underestimated fighter deserves his moment of glory.

The sporting ex-champ Rothmann was class all the way and refused to make any excuses afterwards in a touching post-fight interview where the possibility of a rematch was discussed. 

This writer doesn’t need to see it happen again, I think it’s time for Thompson to go out where he belongs; at somewhere close to the top of his game.

          *                          *                         *                          *

Thanks, as ever to Richard Poxon of Dennis Hobson promotions.

Comments or questions email Paul at: mrconk@yahoo.co.uk

 

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