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Well-rested Nwodo is hoping it's lights out for Wilson tonight

The Baltimore Sun

It was an interruption to his nap at a New York hotel that Nigerian-born boxer Emmanuel Nwodo gladly accepted.

Not that he didn't need the sleep. In the past year, he had grown tired of traveling between Sudan, where he now lives, and the United States, preparing for fights that weren't in the foreseeable future.

Frustration had set in because Nwodo, 33, had spent nearly a year "resting," unable to find opponents. Finally, on Wednesday afternoon in the middle of a nap, there was a chance to talk about his return to the ring tonight on national television.

Nwodo (21-3, 17 knockouts) last fought in July 2006, when he knocked out Chicago's Chris Thomas in the third round of a scheduled 12-round bout. It was Nwodo's 10th straight victory, eight by knockout. So if success in the ring were not the problem for Nwodo, then why the long layoff?

"No one wanted to fight me," Nwodo said. "No one wanted to challenge for my title."

Nwodo found an opponent in local fan favorite Darnell Wilson of Silver Spring, who will challenge for Nwodo's U.S. Boxing Association cruiserweight title in the featured bout tonight as part of ESPN's Friday Night Fights at the St. George Theater on Staten Island, N.Y.

The idle time has allowed Nwodo to get in what he called the best shape of his professional career, and he said he's ready to show people who've never heard of him exactly what kind of fighter he is.

"When you come to fight me, you have to be ready for the war. When I step inside that ring, it's something different," Nwodo said.

Wilson, 32, who is 21-5-3, has fought many times at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie. He is trained by former Olympic silver medalist Charles Mooney, who was on the same Games team as Sugar Ray Leonard.

Nwodo, meanwhile, has spent time training at Edmondson High School. Football coach Dante Jones has watched Nwodo and said it was understandable, after seeing what he does to sparring partners, why others wouldn't want to get into the ring with him.

"His quickness is out of this world, but to see quickness and hand speed is special," Jones said. "He's the total package. He's the real deal. I can't see him having anything other than success in this fight."

Proceeds from the fight will go to fight trainer Teddy Atlas' foundation that assists the needy in the New York area. In a teleconference, Atlas said he has heard that when Nwodo hits you on the top of your head, you can feel it in your toes.

"Emmanuel can punch like hell," Hall of Fame boxing trainer Lou Duva said during the teleconference. "Wait until you see him punch."

Nwodo said his strength comes naturally and that he doesn't lift weights. He said that after this fight he feels he'll be ready to fight for the world title. For now, though, he is happy to be under the lights again, ready to show his power.

Even if it means missing a nap or two.

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