Once a successful premiership footballer, life long boxing fan Curtis Woodhouse decided to trade his football boots for boxing gloves and in September 2006, began a professional career as a pugilist at the age of 26, having never had an amateur fight.
As a footballer the Driffield man was capped four times by England Under-21s and rose to prominence as Sheffield United’s youngest ever club captain at just nineteen years old. He also played for Hull City and was bought by Birminghan City for £1 million pounds at the height of his footballing Halcyon days. But even though he was living out many boys dreams, his real dreams lay not on a pitch, but in the ring.
Competing initially as a welterweight, Woodhouse made his professional debut, live on terrestrial TV. And fast became a fighter people started to take note of, not because of his novelty football background, although initially that was maybe the case. No Curtis Woodhouse soon proved he was a serious fighter with serious ambition and he has gone on to prove that, winning the respect of the fans and his fellow boxers.
If you Google the name Curtis Woodhouse now, you will have to get to the third page in before you find anything to do with Curtis Woodhouse the footballer. He has made his bones as a boxer and has become one of the domestic scenes most exciting protagonists. After six years as a professional he has now seasoned into a very good fighter and has without doubt been excepted has a true boxing man and member of the British warrior set, that fans cant get enough of watching.
“The one thing I’ve always been striving for off my pears in boxing, the fans and other fighters, is their respect and acceptance.” Woodhouse told www.britishboxers.co.uk
“I don’t want them saying, he’s brilliant or anything like that, just he’s a good fighter him, kind of like they have accepted me into their game. I suppose it’s the same as if when I was playing football and some boxer came in to say try take my position and I’d be like no mate you’ve got no chance. So I kind of understand the skepticism a bit when I first turned pro, but I believe now I’m seen among other fighters and fans as a genuine contender and that makes me very proud.”
Woodhouse now 33 years old, believes he has got another five or six years left in him, before he hangs up the gloves. He has already achieved more in boxing than many people believed he would when he first turned pro. He has had 24 fights so far, winning 19 and losing 5. Last year he took on current unbeaten British welterweight champion Frankie Gavin for the WBO intercontinental 10st title. Gavin the only British boxer to ever win a world amateur championship is considered one of the most gifted UK boxers around and Woodhouse pushed him all the way and gave Gavin his toughest fight to date, but narrowly lost by split decision.
He then stepped down to light-welterweight where he became the English champion, taking the vacant belt with a points win over Dave Ryan in September last year. In March Woodhouse lost the belt in a highly controversial decision against Shayne Singlton, a result Woodhouse still disputes.
But he hasn’t hung around dwelling on it and has had two fights since down at lightweight, where he now intends to stay, in a domestic division that is packed with quality and Woodhouse feels he is now ready and is certainly willing to get involved with them all.
“When I’m in the ring now, I am more confident in myself, I feel more at ease.” explained Woodhouse.
“I’ve been a professional boxer for six years now, where as before, because I’d had no amateur experience, I was a little bit crash bang wallop because I didn’t really know what I was doing and every time I was getting in the ring something knew was happening.
“But if you look through my career now, I’ve lost fights, I’ve been stopped, I’ve knocked kids out, I’ve been cut, I’ve broken my nose, broken my cheek bone, so I’ve pretty much experienced all there is to experience in a boxing ring.
“I feel like a seasoned fighter, when I get my opponent hurt now, there is no rush, I just take my time and dissect them.
“Also, I feel as if I am coming into my prime, ability wise and I feel that I can get in there with anyone in Britain, especially at lightweight.
“The top boys, at the top lightweight division are better boxers than me and I openly admit that, but if I land sweet on them, I believe I can take anyone of them out, I believe I’m the hardest puncher at lightweight around.”
In his last fight, this weekend just gone, on the big Hull ‘Homecoming’ show, Woodhouse took on tough Rochester battler Joe Elfidh and impressed with not just how big and strong he looked at lightweight, but how he dominated Elfidh, not with his usual swarming style, but a more composed patient and purposeful display, cutting the ring off like a combat specialist and at times had Elfidh looking like a rabbit caught in the headlights before dropping him three times and stopping him in the 3rd round.
“We have been working a lot in the gym, cutting the ring off, because one thing we took from the Singleton fight, even though I thought I won the fight comfortably, is that I wasn’t cutting the ring off, I was following him about.
“Where as with Joe Elfidh, I made him panic a little bit because I left him nowhere to go with my foot movement, a few other people have also picked up on that too, so its nice to know that what me and my coach John Pegg are doing in the gym is paying off in the fights. They might be just small things, but in a fight, they become big things! Especially with a pressure fighter like myself. I need to make people feel suffocated, but you cant always do that, you know, throw a million punches! You have to be smarter and working hard on little changes pays off.
“No one has ever done that to Joe Elfidh, I made him panic and he felt suffocated. He went six rounds with Scott Harrison, I know Keiran Farrell stopped him with a good body shot and in his loss to Tyrone Nurse he retired injured. He’d only ever been down once in his career and that was to Keiran Farrell, but to dominate him like I did and to have him down three times in six minutes, I was happy with it.
“I’m still not the finished article, I’ve still got loads to work on, but I’m getting to where I want to be at the minute, I feel assured in there now and I know my job and I just go about my business now.
“When you have the power in both hands and your a confident pressure fighter, I know If I get the shots off and land, I will take kids out.”
After starting off at welterweight, winning the English title at light-welterweight he has now settled at lightweight, I asked Curtis how the move down to lightweight came about and what things he has had to change in his camp and diet?
“What triggered my move to lightweight was the Shane Singleton fight. Before that fight during and after training sessions I was weighing in at 9st, 12lb, and that was like two weeks before the fight and I’m thinking, your two pound under the weight limit here! And then I said to myself, your only 3lb over the lightweight division! So Id already made the decision to go to lightweight before the Shayne Singleton fight
“One of the main things I’ve stopped doing is eating bread and that has made a big difference, plus the times that I eat at also. I don’t train any different, I do all the same groundwork, fitness work, sparring, technique work, I do exactly the same but I’ve changed my diet and that’s what has helped me get down comfortably to lightweight.
“For the Elfidh fight I weighed in at 9st, 10lbs, and on the night of the fight when I left my house to go to the venue I was 10st, 13lbs, so Id put 17lbs on. So really I’m weighing in at lightweight, but on the night of the fight I’m coning in a pound under light-middleweight, so I believe that gives me an advantage, especially because of the type of pressure fighter that I am and I trade on my strength. So to be in there 10, 11 maybe 12lbs heavier than Joe Elfidh, it will give me a good advantage over these other lightweights in the future.”
What does Curtis expect to achieve at lightweight and how does he see the domestic division and where he fits in it?
“I mean I’ve boxed up at welterweight against Frankie Gavin and I mean Frankie was faster than me and a better boxer than me, but he wasn’t stronger than me and he’s a welterweight. So I feel if I can get the weight right at lightweight, I will be an handful for any of them.
“When I look at the British lightweight division it puts chills down my spine thinking about some of the fights I could be involved in. Looking at it has a fan, I look at me against Scott Harrison or John Murray, fighters like that who come to fight like myself, they would be just fantastic to be involved in.
“The top lightweights in the domestic division are all top top fighters, there isn’t any that I think, o yeah he’s an easy fight, non are easy fights, everyone in that top ten are quality fighters, good kids and for me it would be a pleasure to be in the mix with them.
“Id like to fight all of them, I’m not saying id beat everyone of them, some of them would beat me , but I believe on any given night outside of Ricky Burns, I can beat anyone of them on my night, if I turn up and things go my way, I believe I’m a match for any of them.
“I was always been a massive boxing fan, so I look at things from a fans perspective more so than maybe a lot of other boxers would, because they’ve always been boxers. I look at it like, yeah me verses John Murray, me vs verses Scott Harrison or Martin Gethin would just be wars and as a fan you think bloody hell yeah I want to watch that.
“Once I’ve retired from boxing, I’m not leaving any legacy, I’m not going into the Hall of Fame I know that, but when I’ve retired and say I go to boxing shows, Id like to walk through the venue and people would say, ‘you know what, he was involved in some good fights, The same like when I see Michael Gomez and people like that, I look at them and I think wow, I remember that fight and that fight, he was one of my favorites and Jamie Moore, they are a couple of my favourite fighters of all time, not because they were the best boxers in the world, just because every time they stepped into the ring, you had to watch because because you’d think this could be one of the best fights of the decade. So fighters like that are who I am trying to emulate.
“I’m not trying to emulate boxers like Floyd Mayweather because I’m just not good enough, but people who are involved in great fight after great fight. People like Derry Mathews, I mean I look at Derry and I think, he has been involved in some unbelievable fights , so when he hangs his gloves up, he can retire a proud man and that’s how I want my career to go, good fight after good fight after good fight!
“I have been involved in some crackers already, but I still think I’ve got another five or six years left of my career, so I just want to be involved in good fights all the way.
“I want big fights now, I feel I’ve done my apprenticeship and I just want to get stuck in with the big boys now.”
Woodhouse says his dream is to fight for the British title before his career is over, but he will take any title fight put to him. There has been talk of a potential meeting with Derry Mathews. He and Woodhouse both share the same promoter Dave Coldwell, making a fight easier to make. Former British champion and fans favourite Mathews has just claimed the Commonwealth title with a 10th round TKO over Tommy Coyle on the same Hull show Woodhouse beat Elfidh on last Saturday, but is it a fight Woodhouse would want, against someone he admires so much and who he calls a friend?
“I would never call Derry out, because I’ve got too much respect for him, but yeah we have the same promoter and he is a friend of mine. It would be a great opportunity to fight for a Commonwealth title and yeah Derry holds it at the moment, but if a fight got made I be delighted, it would be a tough tough fight and it would be a great honour for me to fight Derry.
“Me and Derry are both with Dave Coldwell, so the fight would be easy to make, but like I say me and Derry are friends so it would be a strange fight no doubt, so we would probably end up knocking lumps out of each other and then sharing a few pints afterwards.
“I just want title fights now, it is my dream to win a British title, I know the current champion Martin Gethin has got Anthony Crolla next, but I just want to get the opportunity to fight for the belts, I’m not too fussed who I fight for them I just want to stay active and keep banging on the door for my opportunity.”
Follow Curtis on Twitter: @woodhousecurtis
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