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Cloud vs. Woods: Clinton Can’t Afford to Lose

Clinton Woods Tavoris CloudBy William Mackay: Former International Boxing Federation light heavyweight champion Clinton Woods (42-4-1, 24 KO’s) will be attempting to recapture the vacant IBF title on Friday night against unbeaten number #1 rated IBF contender Tavoris Cloud (19-0, 18 KO’s) at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, in Hollywood, Florida.

Woods, 37, can’t afford to be beaten at this point in his career unless he wants to stick around for another year or two trying to work his way back into title contention. The chances of Woods making it back after that much time is very slim, because there are a number of talented fighters like Glen Johnson Nathan Cleverly and Yusaf Mack following closely in Woods’ footsteps ready to fight for a title themselves.

On Friday night, Woods will be facing one of the best fighters in the division in knockout artist Cloud, who can punch as hard as anyone in the division. What isn’t known about Cloud is how good he really is, because his opposition has been poor for the most part during his five year pro career.

All that Cloud has to show for his five years as a pro is a 10th round knockout over 33-year-old Julio Cesar Gonzalez last August in 2008. Cloud, strangely enough, hasn’t fought since then and has been waiting for a title shot, initially against Chad Dawson. However, Dawson vacated his IBF light heavyweight title rather than fighting Cloud.

This left the title open for Cloud and Wood to fight it out to see which one of them would pick up the scrap. Cloud looked good in the early stages of his fight with Gonzalez last year, throwing a massive amount of power punches while doming Gonzalez. However, Cloud seemed to have punched himself out by the 6th round, and threw very few punches after that until getting his wind back in the 10th, and putting Gonzalez away.

If Cloud wants to win the title, he’s going to have to be able to fight at a much more steady pace against Woods on Friday night, because if Cloud wears down and gives away four to five rounds against Woods, Cloud will likely end up losing the fight.

Woods has enough skills to take a take a round or two while Cloud is fighting at a full head of steam, but if Cloud goes into an extended period of the fight where he’s just standing there like a bump on a log like Cloud did in his fight against Gonzalez, then Woods will win this fight.

Cloud really needed to fight at least two or three more contenders before taking on Woods, because Cloud needs more experience. The IBF shot Cloud to the number #1 ranking in the light heavyweight division largely off of one win, Cloud’s defeat of Gonzalez.

That’s really not fair to Cloud or the other contenders ranked below him, because Gonzalez hardly looked like the fighter he was earlier in his career by the time that Cloud fought him. Indeed, Gonzalez had lost his last two fights going into his bout with Cloud last year.

I can’t see any other credible opponents on Cloud’s flimsy resume for him to be put at the number one position by the IBF. That could turn around and hurt Cloud in this fight because Woods is a lot better than Gonzalez and dominated him in a one-sided 12 round decision two years ago. Cloud struggled against Gonzalez for vast stretches of that fight.

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