By Terence Dooley
Driffield’s Curtis Woodhouse has vowed to continue his quest to win a British title belt despite Friday night’s fifth-round stoppage reverse to Dale Miles at Rotherham’s Magna Centre venue. Woodhouse, 32, was handed home advantage by promoter Dave Coldwell of Coldwell Boxing for the British light-welterweight title eliminator only for his 27-year-old opponent to rip up the script and march into a final eliminator with Adil Anwar buoyed by this win.
Despite a bring start, in which he used his jab to good effect, Woodhouse (139¾lbs) was dragged into a fight late in the first round after a clash of heads brought a spot of blood to Miles’s (138¾lbs) left eyebrow.
The former footballer started brightly in the second only to walk into a left hand that seemed to impact on his legs. This only served to drag Woodhouse into a war once again and played into his opponent’s hands despite some big moments from the Woodhouse, who nailed Miles with some solid left hooks to the head as well as a big right hand to the body at the end of the third that seemed to hurt the man from Alfreton.
Still, some good work in the fourth and fifth looked to have got Woodhouse back into the argument, especially when he forced the bigger man onto the ropes in round five. However, his southpaw opponent turned Woodhouse well and delivered the Coup de grace – a left hand that dropped his foe to the canvas.
Despite somehow managing to beat the count, Woodhouse was a done deal and referee John Keane made the right decision by signalling the end of the fight at 2:26 of what had been an exciting, seesaw stanza in a gruelling battle of attrition.
“I have a little bit of a headache,” said Woodhouse when speaking to BoxingScene in the dressing room. “He’s a good fighter. I was trying to nail him too much, but in a shootout like that someone has to go, and tonight it was me.
“I had a plan to work on the jab. Typical me, once I got hit on the chin I just wanted to take his head off. I’ve sparred a lot of big kids, but he was so strong and heavy handed – he shook me every time he hit me.
“I actually didn’t realize I’d been down until I got back in here and the lads let me know. I watched him on tape, he didn’t look that fast, but when I was in there he was catching me with shots. Maybe I was thinking too much about offense instead of defence.”
It was an exciting battle; Woodhouse is now 16-4 (11) yet he still hopes to net a British title at some point and was happy to have provided thrills and spills for the fans. He said: “It is one of those fights where something had to give. I think I started really well, then he caught up with me and I don’t know what shot he caught me with. I walked into it and that was that.
“Dale is very big, strong and heavy handed. My boxing was there to start with. As it went further, my defence got worse – if he hits anyone with those types of shots he’ll put them away.
“We’ll see where we go from there, but I’ll have a bit of a rest and then speak to Dave [Coldwell] about getting back out again. I’m a lot of things, but I’m not a quitter, so I aimed to become British champion and will still aim for that. I’ll let the bumps heal first, but my ego is more hurt than anything else.”
He added: “I enjoyed it. The crowd was going crazy. I thought I could carry on at first. Everyone said I was gone, so that shows how hurt I was because at first I didn’t even realize I’d been down.”
Woodhouse suffered a fractured cheekbone and expects to go under the surgeon’s knife on Monday. Coldwell believes that a rest is in order before they look at the best way to bring him back from the fourth defeat of a pro career that has seen Woodhouse have to learn on the job in each successive fight.
“I am devastated,” said Coldwell. “We go way back. We’ve had down times before, like when Jay Morris beat him [by decision in 2009], but nothing like that. We knew what it meant to him and what type of fight it would be. I told Curtis that once in a while a fight comes along that people talk about, and this was that fight, this is what boxing is all about, but he had a firefight instead of boxing.
“I said it would be brilliant. It was everything I said it would be, the pre-fight stuff wasn’t the usual promotional bullshit – I’m proud as hell to have put that fight on. We wanted to get Curtis a British title. It doesn’t stop here because if Dale wins it we’ll make an offer for a rematch. I’m sure television would get onboard because everyone said before this that it is a TV-worthy fight.”
“I told him I’ll bring him back, we’ve done it before,” he said when asked about Woodhouse’s future options. “Curtis is a warrior, he proved what he is about and has proved that he can fight. Dale was everything I expected him to be – he is the British Antonio Margarito because of his size at the weight. He is a brilliant fighter, but I’m devastated.”
Miles rises to 13-1 (10) and will now head into a meeting with Anwar. “I’m over the moon because I knew it would be a hard fight,” said Miles. “He didn’t start as fast as I thought he would, but as soon as he started trading, I knew the fight was mine. I caught him flush a few times, he bit down on the gum shield and when he threw a few jabs I thought, ‘I didn’t expect this’, but knew I had the power on him.”
Indeed, the 5’ 11’’ banger could not believe his luck when Woodhouse opted for a “seek and destroy” approach after getting clipped on the chin in round two.
“When they throw with you like that, you know you’ll land. I took a few clean shots from him but not one of them wobbled me,” he said. “He hit me with a few sickening body shots, I had to bite down, not show out to him and move around.”
“I had a massive size advantage, really, so if someone that size stands and fights me then I’ll take that because it was a mistake. It is different if they move around a bit more. They’ve order a title eliminator with Anwar, so that is next. You can only play it as it comes, but we’ll change the tactics for that one obviously.”
As for his opponent, Miles believes that Woodhouse needs to count to 10 in future fights if he is to avoid hearing the ref’s count. He said: “I think it is in his blood, he is a fighter, but if he had stuck to his body then it might have been a longer fight. My left hand is sore, so I think that is one that got him!”
“I thought all along that Dale would knock him out,” added Jay Shinfield, Miles’s trainer. “We talked about it on the way up because Dale was so much bigger. We thought straight away that if Curtis came in and Dale hit him he’d go to sleep, but credit to Curtis – he took some big shots first. I’d come back here to watch him again because he’s a good fighter.”
Mike Shinfield manages Miles; he offered Woodhouse a ray of hope should his conqueror net a British title down the line. “We’ll go for the British and obviously want Tyrone Nurse again [Writer’s note: Nurse stopped Miles in three on February 11], but we’ll give Curtis a shot after that,” said Mike as the happy party headed out of the Magna Centre.
Please send news and views to [email protected] or Twitter @Terryboxing.