5. Richie Woodhall 26-3 (16)
Unofficially the nicest man in boxing, Woodhall was a stellar amateur who won an Olympic bronze in Seoul, losing to Roy Jones Jnr in the semis. He turned pro shortly after winning Commonwealth gold in 1990...
5. Richie Woodhall 26-3 (16)
Unofficially the nicest man in boxing, Woodhall was a stellar amateur who won an Olympic bronze in Seoul, losing to Roy Jones Jnr in the semis. He turned pro shortly after winning Commonwealth gold in 1990 and quickly won the Commonwealth title at middleweight. He added the European title before taking on Keith Holmes for the world crown.
Having fallen short against Holmes, being stopped in the twelfth round after a brave effort fighting with an elbow injury that almost ended his career, Woodhall moved up to the super-middleweight division.
In early 1998, Woodhall had home advantage against WBC champion and recent Robin Reid conqueror Thulani Malinga. With the Telford Ice Rink packed to capacity (plus a few hundred more who had sneaked into the venue via cash in hand, hiding behind a mate with a ticket or blatantly just walking in), Woodhall was roared onto victory by an incredibly loud crowd. He controlled the fight with his textbook jab and picked Malinga off with frequent straight-rights - the style he had as an amateur tweaked ever so slightly for the professional game.
He successfully defended the title twice, gaining a majority decision against Glenn Catley and getting off the canvas to drop and stop former champion Vincenzo Nardiello. He lost the title in unfortunate circumstances; he’d been out of the ring for eight months and had been in a long legal battle with his promoter, Frank warren, before he agreed to take on Markus Beyer in Germany.
It was surprising that the champion agreed to fight an undefeated, up-and-coming fighter away from home, but by that point one sensed Woodhall was desperate to get back into the ring. Woodhall made a slow start, getting dropped in the first and twice in the third. He eventually got himself back into the contest, outboxing Beyer from the fifth onwards and rocking him late on. In the end the judges could’ve gone either way, which is remarkable given the poor start Woodhall had.
Woodhall had a rematch with Beyer scuppered by Glen Catley, who stopped the German in the final round of their title bout. It wasn’t seen as too much of a problem as there was enough interest in a rematch with Catley for that to be made, unfortunately for Woodhall, Catley was beaten in his first defence by Dingaan Thobela.
With the chance of a fight for his old WBC belt looking unlikely, IBF champion Sven Ottke was targeted, although it soon became clear that wasn’t going to happen. In late 2000 Woodhall faced his friend and WBO champion Joe Calzaghe. Woodhall was competitive early but seemed to run out of steam as the fight wore on, the non-stop punching of Calzaghe wearing down Woodhall, who was dropped in the ninth before being stopped on his feet in the tenth.
He retired after the fight and has gone on to become a much respected commentator, analyst and trainer.
4. Chris Eubank 45-5-2 (KO 23)
A two weight world champion, the eccentric Eubank was looked upon as a pantomime-esque villain in the early part of his career, yet was much loved by the time his career came to an end.
Having won the WBO middleweight title against Nigel Benn, his arch rival, and defended it three times, Eubank moved up a division for a rematch with Michael Watson, who Eubank had beaten via a majority decision in his last bout at middleweight.
Eubank produced a remarkable comeback after being thoroughly outboxed by Watson early on. He was way behind on the cards when he unleashed a brutal right hand at the end of the eleventh round that sent Watson crashing to the canvas, Watson got to his feet but was quickly halted at the start of the twelfth and final round. Watson collapsed seconds after the fight was stopped and suffered serious injuries that took him many years to overcome. It’s safe to say that if Watson hadn’t suffered those injuries, he would’ve undoubtedly become a world champion and would be very high up on this list.
Eubank made f