Wood’s view on ex-footballers in boxing and seeks opportunities abroad. by Hakan Saglam Photos by Milos Lekovic

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There has been a lot of banter lately of ex-footballers coming into the boxing scene, looking for a big payout while making a mockery of the sport of boxing. A recent such event has caused a lot of anger for fight fans. A poor display of boxing, controversial judging and allegations of testing positive for drugs where some of the headlines that came out from the event. Needless to say it’s doing nothing for the sport we love so much.
There have always been footballers that have made the transition into boxing and have been quite successful. One such boxer, who started out as a footballer, decided to leave the Rabbitohs and give the fistic arts a go. You might have heard of him, he’s the Australian Contender winner – Garth Wood.
Wood did the hard yards. He didn’t take any short cuts. He paid he’s dues and worked he’s way up the ranks until he got a lucky break and was selected into the Contender Australia boxing series. I have to point out this was no picnic for Wood. Fighting Australia’s best contenders to eventually face off and beat Anthony “The Man” Mundine.
We asked what his thoughts were – being an ex-footballer, on this controversial subject of his football counter parts coming into the boxing scene.

“If they’re willing to do the hard work, then it’s all good and well. I’ve had a look at the Koder issue and it all seems to be a business plan just to roll the cash in. But you know they’ll get caught out sooner or later. I knew about this 10 years ago.” Wood exclaimed.
“I’d rather not give them any air time, f*&k ‘em, wipe ‘em out or kick ‘em out!”
Garth Wood was on the main card on Friday night after taking a year off. He fought a tough Samoan southpaw-Togasilimai Letoa who is now based in Kalgoorlie for the vacant light heavy weight PABA title.
Wood has never fought a southpaw before and started the first 2 rounds with caution.
“I tried to come in from the side and not go straight down the gun. I tried to come in like a shark, you know what I mean, circle around and not come straight in.” Wood said.
“It’s the first time I fought a southpaw and found it very foreign and awkward. I’ve learnt from it and I’ll definitely go again with a southy.”
In round 3 Wood looked comfortable fighting a southpaw. He started leading in with the cross and scoring really well.
In the following round – round 4, Letoa had picked up the pace and was pushing forward onto Wood. Early in the round he had Wood on the ropes and was working his body. Not long after, Wood connected with a looping right hand and rocked Letoa. He found himself on the canvas and the ref started with the mandatory 8 count. Letoa looking a bit shaky, got up, brushed it off and charged at Wood. Wood now sensing victory was near, went in to finish him off but his opponents toughness and determination prevailed and got him through to the end of the round.
I asked Wood later if he was going in for the kill after the knockdown.
“Mate I was, but it was like on my first date.” Wood replied.
“When you know, you take you girlfriend up to the pictures in the back row trying to put her away.” The change room erupts with laughter.
“Patience is a virtue”. Wood finally adds with a cheeky smirk on his face.
The next three rounds Wood dominated and pushed Letoa constantly against the ropes.
In the 9th round Wood lands a powerful right hand and knocks the mouth guard out from Letoa. Once again Wood has him up against the ropes and Letoa is now looking weary. To the head, the body and back up to the head Wood gives him a good working over. Letoa eventually goes down following a final body shot. He struggles back up to one knee contemplating on whether to get back up or not. But it’s all too late as the ref reaches the 10 count and ends the bout scoring a TKO victory to Garth Wood.
In his post fight speech he was asked what the plans are for the future.
“I don’t like to think ahead, I’ll just take it fight by fight. Obviously after tonight I’m in the top 10. I’ve got my man Fidel who’s got connections in all the right places, and hopefully we can go overseas.”
Written by Hakan Saglam.




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