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Clinton ready for Tarver crunch.

SHEFFIELD'S Clinton Woods will defend his IBF light-heavyweight world title against former undisputed champion Antonio Tarver in Florida on April 12.

Woods, 35, has been craving a shot at Tarver for some time and the pair will finally meet in the American's home town of Tampa in the spring.

Tarver became king of the 175lb division by stunning the sport with a knockout victory over the great Roy Jones in 2004.

However, a points defeat by the ageing Bernard Hopkins in 2006 proved to be a crushing blow and despite two routine victories since then, a role in the 'Rocky Balboa' film has been his only notable achievement in recent years.

Woods, who will defend the title he won against Rico Hoye in 2005 for the fifth time, said, "Tarver may have beaten Rocky Balboa, but he won't get past me. "It is a fight I have been longing for. He told me he would beat me years ago - well now he has got the chance.

"He can't run any longer because the deal has been made. It is 'smell the coffee' time and he is going to find out the hard way what a thorough beating is all about.

"He lost to old man Bernard Hopkins on points, but I am going to knock him out and then my status as the best light-heavyweight in the world will be confirmed.

"If Joe Calzaghe gets past 'grandad' Hopkins the week after I make mincemeat of Tarver, he can come looking for me. "I'm ready for Calzag he any time and any place and he knows it."

Promoter Dennis Hobson has teamed up with American counterpart Gary Shaw and television network Showtime to stage the bout.

And Hobson hopes Woods will come through against Tarver, 39, to set up a unification contest with American WBC champion Chad Dawson - who takes on Glen Johnson on the same bill at the St Pete Times forum.

"This time the US audience is getting to see what the real Clinton is capable of," said Hobson.

"Gary and I have a good relationship and when Clinton disposes of Tarver I'll look forward to sitting with him and discussing the Dawson unification match."

Woods' last foray across the Atlantic was to take on then-pound-for-pound champion Jones, when he suffered a sixth-round stoppage in 2002.

But the Yorkshire man insists he has no qualms about heading to the States again.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 30, 2008
Words:402
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