Woodhouse keen for 2013 shot at British title after he earned it the hard way
THE route to the top of any profession is rarely easy. Pitfalls await, obstacles lie around the corner and often a plethora of people are waiting to hold you back.
At least, that's how it felt for Curtis Woodhouse.
At the age of 32, 16 years after bursting onto the football scene, he's back at the top again – and he's earned it the hard way.
While everything was given to Woodhouse on a platter as a prodigious young football talent, his ascent through the boxing ranks has been in stark contrast.
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First seen as a wannabe boxer, and derided by many, the Beverley-born fighter has justified his position as one of British boxing's premier light-welterweights.
Having secured the English title, bigger and better things lie in store with a British title shot on the agenda for 2013.
Regardless of the belt around his waist, his last two bouts against Dale Miles and Dave Ryan, not to mention a split decision loss to Frankie Gavin, have cemented Woodhouse's reputation as one of the most entertaining boxers around.
Never one to lack confidence, Woodhouse felt the destination his boxing career would take was always assured. He even expected the bumpy journey.
But now he's earned the respect of his peers, the adulation of the public and a shot at the big time, he's determined not to let go.
"Last year was a great one for me, but there were also some disappointments, so this year could be my best yet," explains Woodhouse.
"I'm in the mix for a fight at the British title. I am ranked high enough, but the problem at the minute is the reigning champion Darren Hamilton perforated his eardrum and was out for a while.
"He has Steve Williams as his mandatory challenger. There is a line of people waiting to have a crack at that belt. Once I get my chance I am confident I'll take it, but I need a chance first and it looks like I'll have to bide my time and stay patient.
"The British title is the one I want, but if it doesn't come I won't worry, I'll chase other avenues. I'm confident my shot will come, though, and I think I've earned it."
With a record of 17 wins from 21 contests, Woodhouse has gone from pretender to entertainer in recent years.
His five-round defeat against Miles was one of the fights of 2012, with both trading relentless big shots in a brutal bout.
Bouncing back from that defeat to win the English title against Ryan in September, Woodhouse got his reward. And having worked so hard for his first major belt, he's determined not to relinquish it when he meets Lancashire's Shayne Singleton in a war of the roses match-up next month in Rotherham.
"I've never seen him box before. It was a fight offered to me and he wants a crack at the English title. I don't know him but people know I'll box anyone, so I said yes and that's that," says Woodhouse when asked how his first defence came about.
"I'll take a look at him and see what I am up against. What I do know is he is undefeated and that means he'll be very confident. I remember when I was undefeated and you think you can walk through walls. I'll have to be at my best.
"I'm already in training and in good shape at this stage. I've not had a day off recently, I trained Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
"I've had the date set for a few weeks so I knew I was going to fight someone and I didn't want to lose my fitness."
Swapping mince pies for protein shakes over the festive season is nothing new to the ex-Hull City and Sheffield United footballer.
"I've never known a Christmas where I've not been training. I've never had a routine of going out over Christmas and New Year, so it is not something I miss," he explains.
"It's more of a chore on my family than anything. A lot of people won't have trained over Christmas so I feel that gives me an edge over them."
Set to turn 33 in April, there's still plenty left to achieve for Woodhouse, but at the same time he knows his chances will soon start to decrease.
With that in mind he's putting everything into making 2013 his year and recently resigned as manager of Sheffield FC, a job he was loving.
"I didn't understand how much time the football would take up," explains Woodhouse.
"Sheffield are a part-time team and being a part-time player doesn't take up too much time. But being a manager is so different and I found myself dealing with things almost every day.
"I said when it interfered with my boxing I'd walk away and that's what I did.
"My window of opportunity in boxing is decreasing. I can be a football manager when I am 40, but I can't be a boxer at that age so I need to give it everything I've got."
TICKETS for Woodhouse v Singleton are available at www.coldwellboxing.com