Shropshire Star

Show brings memories for ex-boxer Richie Woodhall

There’s a chance Brad Pitt swaggers around Hollywood telling his A lister friends that he’s Richie Woodhall from Telford !


Woodhall and Pitt once swapped places.

Woodhall stepped in as a stunt double in the film ‘Snatch’ where Pitt played the unbeatable bareknuckle fighter ‘One Punch Mickey.’

Pitt has won Academy awards for his acting, while Woodhall conquered a much harder world.

Twenty five years ago, he was the WBC super-middleweight champion.

He made two defences of the belt and retired after a loss to good friend Joe Calzaghe in December, 2020.

Two decades on, Woodhall looks to be only a few pounds over his fighting weight and doesn’t wear the scars of his trade.

But in Cannock this month he will feel all of his 55 years.

Woodhall will be at Bar Sport’s Premier Suite for the next fight night served up by the prestigious Excelsior Sporting Club at Bar Sport on Thursday, September 28 where Shakan Pitters is in action.

Pitters, the former British light-heavyweight champion from Birmingham, meets hard-as-nails Darryl Sharp, who had a win in Telford recently.

Woodhall had a win over his father, Colin Pitters, way back in October, 1991.

“It was at Oakengates,” remembered Woodhall of his seventh professional fight, “and it was a good learning fight.

“He was tall and rangy and he didn’t make it easy for me.

“I was boxing at home and wanted to look good. I wanted to get him out of there and when I couldn’t, I started to get frustrated and let him into it. I remember coming back to the corner and my old man (Len) telling me: ‘Settle down.’

“I outboxed him in the end, but he pushed me. That was my first eight round fight.”

Woodhall went on to get a surprise world-title shot at the town’s Ice Rink in March, 1998.

“I had only just moved up to super middleweight,” he said.

“I lost to Keith Holmes (for the WBC middleweight title in October, 1996) and had an elbow operation.

“I had one fight up at super-middleweight with (promoter) Frank Warren and then he asked me if I wanted the world-title fight.”

The fight would be against Thulani ‘Sugar Boy’ Malinga, a South African who had taken the belt off Robin Reid having previously shared two fights with Nigel Benn.

“They (Malinga’s team) probably thought it was an easy night,” said Woodhall, “because I had only had the one fight at super-middleweight.

“I knew it was going to be tough.

“He was strong, had a good chin and my dad said: ‘You won’t stop him. You will have to train hard.’

“I always used to train hard because I wasn’t a puncher. I always had to be fitter than the other guy. I wince when I look back at what I used to do.

“I would spar 14 four minute rounds because I had to build my engine so I could outlast my opponent.

“Frank Warren got the fight in Telford and the crowd really lifted me. The crowd in Telford and Shropshire were always brilliant. They can take you to a new level.”

The Shropshire crowd are now getting behind Liam Davies, close to a shot at the world super-bantamweight championship after winning British and European honours.

“He’s boxing brilliantly, so full of confidence,” said Woodhall.

“There are bigger tests out there for him, but he’s been matched well and has good rounds under his belt. There’s no reason why he can’t go on to win a world title.”

Davies is being steered by Warren having started out on small-hall shows around the Midlands.

Cannock middleweight Ollie Cooper is taking a similar route and has his next fight at the Excelsior Sporting Club.

“These are the shows where fighters learn their trade,” said Woodhall. “We need these shows to develop fighters and get them ready for the TV shows.”

Diners at the last Excelsior Sporting Club show saw Irish star Ray Moylette held to a shock draw by Jamie Stewart, from Stoke.

“You need 50-50 fights on these shows,” said Woodhall. “The audience need to be entertained or they won’t come back and that’s why the matchmaker’s job is so pivotal.

“(Excelsior Sporting Club matchmaker) Jon Pegg watches more boxing than anyone and knows what a good match is.”