Saturday, December 16

Garth Wood, The Boxing Star From The Hood

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Australian boxing fans are either celebrating or crying themselves into a deep depression. One of the countries most marketable fighters is no more. Anthony “The Man” Mundine, wasn’t just one of the two “big” names in Australian boxing (with Danny Green) but was also the one that was able to talk his way into ears worldwide. Though lets not worry too much about the 35 year washed up has been who has finally been given the mouth shutting he deserves, lets instead look at the man thrust into the limelight as a result of the fight. Garth Wood.

Wood, like Mundine, was a former Rugby player though lacked the success in the NRL of Mundine who was bit of a star in the sport though had played the race card and consequently turned many in the sport against him. Wood instead had been a bit of a failure in all honesty only playing a handful of times in his first stint as a player and although he was better in his second stint where he managed to play for the South Sydney Rabbitohs though then left Rugby and turned his hand to boxing. The man “From the Hood” was on the beginning of his journey into the boxing world.

Although he turned to professional boxing surprisingly late in life (28) he has risen to become some what of a star. His first fight was a DQ win with him fighting a little bit over the Light Heavyweight division, where he did seem a little short, though he was muscular and probably carrying some extra weight. Just months after his debut however Garth would suffer the indignity of being knocked out. The Somaon Ben Fetilika scored the final victory of his career by knocking out Wood in the 4th round. This loss would quickly be put to the background as Wood rattled off 3 wins to move to 4-1 (2) and entered the Australian version of “The Contender”.

Wood was one of the 14 fighters that entered the tournament and one of the least experienced fighters (only Ben “The Juicer” McCulloch had had fewer fights at 3), and was unexpected to do anything in the competition. With fighters like the hard punching Russian Victor Oganov (who had fought Andre Dirrell immediately before entering the tournament) and veteran Nader Hamdan, it was expected that one of the more seasoned fighters would win the series though Wood upset the odds. Firstly he beat the more experienced Israel Kani (9-3-2) (who had come in to replace McCulloch) by stoppage then he claimed a majority upset over Victor Oganov despite being deducted a point for holding.

In the final Wood met Kenyan born Australian Kariz Kariuki and despite being cut relatively early in the fight won a controversial split. The win in the tournament had earned Wood huge exposure in his homeland and more importantly a large pay day and a fight with Mundine. The fight with Mundine waited around 11 months, by then Wood had managed to extend his record to 9-1-1 though hadn’t met anyone of any quality, instead fighting relatively easy contests to help him build his confidence.

Whilst Wood was confidence building Mundine was oozing confidence, he was claiming that he was going to be the first fighter in history to win titles in 3 weights by going downwards (he was a 2 time WBA Super Middleweight champion and an IBO Middleweight champion). Although he was talking a good fight he was facing relatively poor opponents such as Ryan Waters. It was expected that Wood, who had to come in around the middleweight limit would be another though Wood upset the Mundine machine and scored one of the upsets of 2010.

So what now for Wood who has become a bit of an internet sensation thanks to his victory?
Wood has a few obvious fights, most notably a rematch with Mundine, who would likely take the fight much more seriously if offered a rematch, though a fight with Daniel Geale may be a better choice. Geale, who was beaten by Mundine controversially last year has recently won an IBF World title eliminator at Middleweight, the division where Wood last fought. A possible win over Geale would see Wood in line for a title fight, whilst a move back to Super Middleweight may be better if Wood wishes to capitalise on his international fame. Sadly however it’s unlikely that we will ever hear of Garth Wood again outside of Australia, Aussie boxers do seem to be getting themselves a reputation as “stay at home” fighters. If Woods wishes to stay at home then he’ll be best off learning from Mundine’s mistake and not irritating the entire boxing community with claims of excellence.

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