Undefeated super-middleweight prospect Harry Woods (4-0), from Maghull, Liverpool, has landed a dream opportunity to fight live on BT Sport and ITV4 on Tuesday, November 10.
25-year-old Woods, a former England amateur representative, is currently four fights victorious in the pro ranks and last fought in February at the Grand Central Hall in Liverpool, defeating veteran Kevin McCauley (15-208-12) on points.
In a surprise chance, he now has his fifth fight live on TV in the fast-paced, one-night knockout tournament, Ultimate Boxxer. With just two weeks to prepare, Woods accepted the challenge without hesitation.
Trained by Paul Stevenson at the talent-laden Everton Red Triangle Gym, he described the moment he found out about the biggest opportunity of his entire boxing career, “Paul rang me on Friday night and I literally said yes, right there and then. Paul just mentioned it at first and was putting it to me, and he said that he thinks it’s a good opportunity, so that was enough for me, so yeah, I didn’t have to think twice!”
Part of the century-old gym in Liverpool, Woods trains alongside six other unbeaten prospects. Despite the pandemic, the facility has been full ever since the first lockdown restrictions were lifted.
“Before I found out, I was still training three days a week and keeping fit, staying ready, because you just never know.
“I’ve already been preparing for the different format, just been sparring this week to get used to the format; so, I sparred four rounds, had a bit of a rest, then back in again. I’ve been sparring the lads in the gym like Jack McKinlay and ‘Jof’ Walsh.”
Jack ‘The Ripper’ McKinlay is currently unbeaten in two pro fights, and Jonathan Walsh, known as ‘Jof’, is unbeaten in four.
Woods hasn’t yet fought in front of the TV cameras, with all his fights taking place on Black Flash Promotions events on the small hall scene in his home city of Liverpool.
That unassuming background provides an added advantage in his eyes, he claims, “It gives me more motivation coming from being on small hall shows, so it’s my first time on a televised bill so I’m looking forward to it and showing everyone what I’m about.”
Woods will be joined by three other semi-finalists, all looking to win their next two fights to be bestowed with the prize of the Golden Robe. Light-heavyweight Shakan Pitters is just one of six previous winners to wear the robe and he went on to become a British champion very soon after.
Confident in his own ability, Woods is not focusing too much on the competition, “To be honest, I just take whoever I get given, so I’m not bothered to be honest, I’ll take both fights as they come.”
Former Southern Area titlist Zak Chelli (7-1-1, 3KOs) is the tournament favourite; MTK Global-signed talent Mike McGoldrick (6-0, 2KOs) was also a late addition, like Woods; then there’s the dark horse of the competition, unbeaten Ben Ridings (3-0).
“I feel like I’m really fit and can deal with whatever anyone throws at me,” Harry asserted. “I can push the pace, and I want to show off what I’ve learnt in the gym with Paul. I’ve been a pro for two years this January and feel like I’ve learnt loads since then.
“I’m fit and I feel ready for it, so I’m just looking forward to it, really!”
The four-man knockout tournament takes place behind closed doors at the BT Sport Studios in Stratford. An advantage for Woods is that trainer Paul Stevenson already has experience of performing in the venue from when he took teammates Nick Ball (13-0, 6KOs), Andrew Cain (6-0, 6KOs), and Brad Strand (4-0, 1KO) there in July to perform on the Lyndon Arthur vs Dec Spelman undercard, live on BT Sports on a Queensberry Promotions production, with all three winning their fights.
“Paul’s mentioned it to me already about the setup, but couldn’t ask for anyone better to help me deal with what’s to come. He’s the person you’d wanna have with ya during this. We’re all mentally strong anyway so I can deal with it and anything else that comes our way.”
Trainer Paul Stevenson added, “Despite going in on just 10 days notice, Harry is always fit and ready. He’s coming in fresh from dozens of rounds of sparring with Commonwealth champion JJ Metcalf. When you’re in shape and motivated, you’re able to take full advantage of any opportunity.”
Both broadcasters, BT Sport and ITV4, are airing the three-hour show live from 8pm on Tuesday, November 10. The event’s centrepiece is the one-night winner-takes-all knockout tournament featuring semi-finalists Zak Chelli; Harry Woods; Mike McGoldrick; and Ben Ridings.
Joining the talented quartet on the event undercard will be Love Island winner Jack Fincham in his professional boxing debut; former Ultimate Boxxer winners Derrick Osaze (10-0, 2KOs) and Mikael Lawal (12-0, 7KOs); as well as Albanian superstar Florian Marku (6-0, 4KOs), with Paulie Malignaggi and Steve Bunce providing the expert punditry.
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