CRAIG Woodruff’s successful return to the boxing ring earlier this month has been given a resounding thumbs-up by the man overseeing his comeback after four years out.

Richie Garner was so impressed with Woodruff that he feels he would have failed as a manager and trainer if Newport’s ex-Welsh champion doesn’t eventually fight for the British title.

Garner, who trains the 26-year-old along with Luke Pearce and Carl Samuels, has also admitted that Woodruff, a former protege of Steve Sims, is a better boxer than he expected.

Before his comfortable points defeat of Blackburn’s Naheem Chaudhry in Llandarcy on November 17, Woodruff hadn’t fought since July 2014.

His love for the sport dwindled following a loss to 2012 Olympic gold medallist Luke Campbell and in 2016 he was handed a suspended prison sentence for GBH.

Now he’s back, the super-lightweight wants to make the most of his second chance, and his next outing should be in his hometown after Christmas.

“I think Craig became a bit disillusioned with boxing before,” said Garner.

“He had a bit much a bit too soon and lacked a bit of maturity.

“With the attitude he now has, you can tell he has fallen back in love with the sport – it’s a different Craig Woodruff to before.

“I’ve brought in a different level of training and Craig is embracing it with real enthusiasm.

“If Craig doesn’t fight for the British title then I would have failed as a manager and trainer.

“The British title has got to be the aim and then maybe a world title shot beyond that.”

He added: “Craig looks absolutely fantastic. I’ve always admired him but he is better than I thought he was.

“He looked absolutely phenomenal in sparring and looked a class above the boys he was in with, some of whom were really experienced lads.

“I’m having to think carefully about opponents for the future because, with the greatest of respect, there is a fear he will be making it look too easy.

“Naheem Chaudhry hasn’t been a successful pro but won 27 of 28 as an amateur so he’s not to be under- estimated, but Craig was always in control.”

Garner was also pleased to see Woodruff’s supporters turn out in force in Llandarcy.

“Craig isn’t the biggest ticket seller and I know boxing is a business but you’ve got to look beyond that, and the level of noise from his supporters on the night was incredible,” he said.

“He kept the crowd waiting a bit but he is an experienced performer and there was a big roar and singing from the crowd when he got into the ring.

“The level of support he had was massively encouraging for what’s to come.”

Woodruff’s 40-36 success against Chaudhry took his record in the professional ranks to six wins and four losses.

* Mount Pleasant Hall in Cwmbran will tonight host Torfaen Warriors ABC’s Wales Clubs v England Clubs amateur match.

Doors 7pm, first bell 8pm. Entry costs £12 for adults and £7 for under-12s.

* Lee Selby and Robbie Regan were among four former world champions made vice-presidents of the Welsh Ex-Boxers Association in Cardiff at the weekend.

Cardiff duo Steve Robinson and Barry Jones were the others.