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Tommy Langford Interview

Now that unbeaten middleweight prospect Tommy Langford has signed with Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren, he hopes that it will fast track him into becoming Devon’s first British champion since Plymouth’s Scott Dann was perched on the middleweight throne in 2005.

The 24-year-old university graduate was a two time national junior champion who captained England squads during a prolonged and productive amateur apprenticeship.

Since shedding his headguard and vest, the Bideford born, Birmingham based prospect has knocked up seven straight wins as a pro under the tutelage of Tom Chaney (mentor to British and Commonwealth welterweight boss Frankie Gavin).

Langford aims for his eighth straight win tonight in Birmingham when he takes on experienced Dan Blackwell over six rounds.

Boxing writer Glynn Evans spoke to Tommy to discuss his background and boxing career.

Name: Tommy Langford

Weight: Middleweight

Born: Bideford, north Devon

Age: 24

Family background: I’m the fourth of five kids. My younger brother Jack boxes amateur for Bideford ABC. He won a national schoolboys title plus the NACYPs and he represented England as a schoolboy.
Today, I live in Weoley Castle, Birmingham with my fiancée. No kids yet.

Trade: I’m a personal trainer at the Fighting Fit gym in Birmingham city centre and I’m also a qualified nutritionist.

Nickname: I’m still open to suggestions.

What age did you become interested in boxing and why? Though my dad never boxed, he was always a huge fan and he got me interested at a very young age with his stories about Ali, Hagler and Sugar Ray.
As a young kid, I was always very energetic, quite aggressive with a short fuse and I had the odd street fight. I became actively involved in boxing just after I started secondary school. The Bideford ABC was just two minutes from where I lived. I played football to quite a decent level and started the boxing to get stronger and fitter. It fell into place lovely.

What do you recall of your amateur career? I stayed at Bideford for about six years and I was coached there by Dick Kersey. In Devon, I reached a junior ABA final losing to Dudley O’Shaughnessy in a cracking fight and won two national CYP titles. I hear Dudley’s now doing really well as a male model. Another year I beat (white hot super-middle prospect) Callum Smith.
When I moved to Birmingham to study sports science at university, I joined the Hall Green club and I’ve been coached by Tom Chaney, the head coach there, ever since.
All told, I had 106 amateur bouts with 86 wins. I won the universities title and the Haringey Cup but never got past the semi finals in three cracks at the senior ABAs. One year I lost to (2013 world bronze medallist) Anthony Fowler who I’d previously beaten on a club show in Chesterfield and another year I got beat by Liam Cameron. Every time I lost to the eventual champion.
I must have boxed for England about 15 times; a few junior but mainly seniors. I boxed against Scotland and Wales loads of time, fought over in Ireland and captained England on a tour to Canada. Boxing for England was always the highlight for me.
I loved boxing so much that I’d accept fights that weren’t really suitable for me. I’d fight anywhere and at short notice which probably didn’t do me any favours regarding England selection for major tournaments. I lost a couple of tight ones.
I felt I was at the same level as the GB lads but never really got the rub of the green. I also got frustrated that the scoring systems were constantly changing from event to event and you were never too sure what the judges would be looking for.

Why did you decide to turn pro when you did? My aim had been to make the London 2012 Olympic team and once I realised that that wasn’t going to happen I just used amateur bouts to learn for the pros, so adjusting styles wouldn’t be such a shock. I knew the time was right to turn over. My dreams had got bigger.
The pros were always going to suit me better. I’ve got a big engine and three rounds were never going to do me justice.

Tell us about your back up team: I’m promoted by Queensberry and managed by (ex pro) Jon Pegg from Birmingham. The late Dean Powell, rest his soul, was looking to put a deal together with Frank (Warren) but it was taking time and I just wanted to crack on as a pro so I signed with Jon. He got me on local shows which allowed me to build up a following.
I’m coached by Tom Chaney who is just so professional in everything that he does. Sparring up at the England camps, Frankie Gavin was the only kid I could never hit so I thought: ‘I need to get with the bloke who’s coaching him!’
I’ve never met a better tactical coach than Tom and the way he relays information is ‘spot on’. Frankie and me both have complete belief in everything he says.
I did a lot of work with strength and conditioning experts whilst at university and now I’m able to plan my own programs. Obviously I’m okay with nutrition cos it’s part of my job away from boxing.

What’s your training schedule? Which parts do you most and least enjoy? I’ll do a run plus a boxing session every day, Monday to Friday, though the times will vary, depending on my work commitments. Saturdays I do my strength and conditioning and Sunday nights I’ll do a long fat burning run. I’m weird. I can’t really allow myself a complete day off.
At the boxing gym, I’ll warm up and get loose with a 15-20 minute jog. Then I’ll do six rounds sharp shadow boxing, six rounds on the bags, six pads, then six rounds of skipping. One day I’ll finish with a circuit, next day I’ll finish with ab work.
I most enjoy sparring days. I used to do a lot with Frankie (Gavin, the British and Commonwealth welterweight champion) but I’m much bigger than him now and anyway we got a bit too used to each other. I’ve done quite a bit with good pros like Danny Butler, Nick Blackwell, Cello Renda, Terry Carruthers and Max Maxwell. I’d love to test myself with guys like Martin Murray or Billy Joe Saunders but employment holds me back. I’ve a mortgage to pay and can’t just take time off.
Skipping is the worst thing. I do it every session but it’s very tedious.

Describe your style? What are your best qualities? I’m a box-fighter with fast hands and a high punch output. If I catch you with one, I’ll probably catch you with five.
At 6ft 1in, I’m tall for middleweight and my long fast jab makes it difficult for opponents. I’ve also got a sharp right hand, either as a cross or a hook. I like to think that I’m exciting to watch.

What specifically do you need to work on to fully optimise your potential as a fighter? Most importantly, I need to get rounds in the bank. I’m comfy with six rounds, now I want to test myself over eight and ten. Also, I need to improve my work on the inside, getting my angles right. I need to become familiar with the right tactics to use for every situation.

What have you found to be the biggest difference between the pro and amateur codes? The longer fights mean that you’re not as rushed. You’ve more time to build into a fight and get your work off. In the amateurs you have to start at 100miles an hour and if you fall behind, it’s very difficult to claw the deficit back. Also, the pros are far more physical. In the amateurs you outscore opponents, in the pros you have to maul ‘em!

Who is the best opponent that you’ve shared a ring with? Obviously Frankie Gavin in sparring. His ability and ring knowledge is just phenomenal. He’s so good at judging distance, making you fall short by half an inch then punishing you. He knows how to win. He’s always able to tell me what I’m doing wrong, in a helpful way.

All time favourite fighter: (Marvin) Hagler. Bad man. Came through the hard way – no favours – yet unified the division. Hard as anything and massively underrated as a technician. An animal!

All time favourite fight: ‘The Thrilla in Manila’, Ali-Frazier III. Brutal. That fight tells you everything that is good and bad about boxing. You could use it to promote the sport or to get it banned!

Which current match would you most like to see made? Domestically, I’d like to see Frankie in a world title fight against either Amir Khan or Kell Brook. He’d beat both. Brook fades whereas Frankie can keep a hell of a pace and Khan’s chin is suspect.
Internationally I’d like to see how Gennady Golovkin would fare with Floyd Mayweather. Floyd’s so clever but Golovkin hits that hard, I think he’d knock him out if he hits him clean.

What is your routine on fight day? I’ll sleep on for as late as I can because, thus far, boxing on small hall shows, I’ve not had the luxury of a ‘day before weigh-in’. Hopefully, weight permitting, I’ll be able to have a little bit of porridge and eggs for breakfast.
To relax, I’ll watch loads of films to take my mind off the fight. I’ll not start thinking about it until I’m packing my bag. Down at the venue, I’ll weigh-in then have good scran; Caribbean chicken with rice and peas is a favourite. I’ll obviously taken in lots of fluid. In the changing room, I’m quiet, focussed, keep myself to myself. Then it’s time to go out and do my job.

Entrance music: ‘Dangerous’ a reggae song by Conrad Smith

What are your ambitions as a boxer? I’m motivated by titles. In Frank, Jon and Tom, I believe I’ve got the team to take me to the British title and beyond. I believe in what I’ve got.

How do you relax? Work helps take my mind off the boxing; helping my clients achieve their goals. I also go to the pictures with my fiancé and I like the footy.

Football team: West Brom. My Dad and uncle, who hail from the midlands originally, are both season ticket holders and I go as much as I can.

Read: All the boxing autobiographies. I’m on the Hagler one at the minute.

Music: Reggae and Soul. I like Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye.

Films/TV: I love boxing films such as ‘Hurricane’, my favourite, ‘Raging Bull’, ‘Cinderella Man’….I also love anything with Denzil Washington in. On TV I watch EastEnders and BoxNation.

Aspiration in life: To have enjoyed everything that I do.

Motto: Destroy and Destruct. I got it from Marvin Hagler.

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