Langford vs Khurtsidze Weights

It might be wise to avoid mentioning to Tommy Langford that he’s fighting for a ‘diluted’ version of the world middleweight title when he fronts up to heavily avoided Georgian Avtandil Khurtsidze for the vacant WBO interim strap at Leicester Arena on Saturday week, writes Glynn Evans.

The reigning British and WBO Inter-Continental king, now unbeaten in 18, claims he’s been left to mop up WBO regular champ Billy Joe Saunders’ dirty mess.

‘Look, Khurtsidze was Billy Joe’s mandatory but that fight didn’t happen so I’m happy to do his job for him,’ says the 27 year old Baggie Bomber with, one senses, tongue firmly planted in cheek.

‘When I win, I’ve as much of a claim to being the full champ as Billy Joe!’

‘Besides, it’s not just about the ‘interim’ belt, it’s where the victory will place me. People will no longer be able to avoid me. Thereafter, if Billy Joe gets a big fight and wins it, he’ll have to fight me.’

The six foot stylist knows that he’ll need to improve dramatically on his most recent outing if he’s to merit serious consideration with the division’s worthies, namely Saunders and Gennady ‘Triple G’ Golovkin; joint custodians of all the reputable belts.

Last November at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena, Langford required all his grit and nous to eke past shifty Sheffield switch hitter Sam Sheedy on a 12 round split that added the vacant domestic title to his expansive horde.

‘It weren’t my best performance,’ concedes the Barnstable born, Birmingham based ex England amateur captain.

‘I was maybe at 60% but that was still enough for me to win the British title. What will I be able to achieve at 100%?

‘Every fighter wants to deliver a perfect performance but, to be fair to myself, it was very hard to look good against Sheedy. Sam didn’t come to fight. He was very negative, refused to engage, ran away.

He just tries to goad you into making mistakes. It was a very strange tactic for a British title fight and proved a losing tactic.

‘I felt I won six of the first eight rounds but then became a bit tentative when, if I’d put my foot on the pedal, I’d possibly have got him out. Still, I dealt with a very tricky customer everyone else was avoiding and move on. The most important thing is that I got myself over the line.

‘I’ve since vacated my Commonwealth belt and Sheedy gets to challenge for it. How bizarre is that?! I’ve retained my British title as a banker but I might never defend it because I want to operate at world level from now on. If I win in Leicester, I’ll be leaving the British scene behind.’

While bunch punching Tommy is blessed with one of the best tuned engines in British boxing, it’s unlikely he’ll be required to go chasing against 5ft 4in Komrade Khurtsidze who arrives with just one speed; fast, and one gear; forward.

With just two defeats in a 15 year, 36 fight pro innings, the sawn-off Brooklyn based co-challenger is certainly top drawer. However, stylistically he should fit Langford as snugly as an 8oz Everlast.

‘It’s been a very enjoyable camp,’ says the Midland man who is coached by fellow Brummie Tom Cheney.

‘It’s very much about me being me, manning up, refusing to allow Khurtsidze any opportunity to bully me. Every session has been very hard and intense and that suits me. This is my sort of fight, what I’m made for. I’m feeling very positive. I’ll be fully prepared for 12 tough, tough rounds.

With his beloved Albion fixture free on April 22nd, turbo Tommy can expect the Black Country to land en masse at Leicester Arena – just 50 miles north-east – and provide crucial energy should matters become messy.

‘I believe it’s a new hall, set up for about 3,500 and it looks a nice venue with no bad seats. I’m really looking forward to headlining,’ says Langford who is rated three with the WBO.

‘I’ll have at least 500 of my lot and I understand it’s already close to a sell-out. Hopefully those Midlanders coming to support the Leicester lads will help make it a very hostile environment for Khurtsidze.

The BT Sport-BoxNation axis represents a new dawn for British boxing and the Baggie Bomber is intent on playing a pivotal part.

‘2017 is gonna be a huge year for Tommy Langford,’ he concludes.

‘Frank Warren and BT Sport are going to need top quality fighters who are happy to fight anybody and I place myself in that bracket. This new deal is going to be crucial to securing the biggest fights for me.

‘Smashing the man no one else would fight would be a massive statement of intent.’

Remaining tickets for Saturday’s action priced £30 are available from www.ticketmaster.co.uk

Fight # 1 -16:30 hrs
6 X 3 Minute Rounds Super-Middleweight Contest
CHRIS BLANEY V CHRISTIAN HOSKIN GOMEZ

Fight # 2
6 X 3 Minute Rounds Lightweight Contest
TOM STALKER 10st 2oz V CHRIS ADAWAY 9st 13lbs

Fight # 3
6 X 3 Minute Rounds International Super-Bantamweight Contest
RAZA HAMZA 9st 3oz V RAFAEL CASTILLO

Fight # 4
6 X 3 Minute Rounds Super-Welterweight Contest
SAM MAXWELL V GEORGIE WRIGHT

Fight # 5
4 X 3 Minute Rounds Welterweight Contest
EKOW ESSUMAN V CASEY BLAIR

Fight # 6 – 18:30 hrs
A FINAL ELIMINATOR FOR WBO WORLD BANTAMWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
12 X 3 Minute Rounds
ZOLANI TETE 8st 5lbs 4oz V ARTHUR VILLANUEVA 8st 5lbs 15oz

Fight # 7 -19:35 hrs
THE ENGLISH SUPER-MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
10 X 3 Minute Rounds
JAHMAINE SMYLE 11st 13lbs 12oz V DARRYLL WILLIAMS 11st 13lbs 10oz

Fight # 8
6 X 3 Minute Rounds Light-Heavyweight Contest
ANTHONY YARDE 12st 9lbs V DARREN SNOW 12st 12lbs 7oz

Fight # 9
4 X 3 Minute Rounds Heavyweight Contest
DANIEL DUBOIS 16st 8lbs V BLAISE MENDOUO 15st 12lbs

Fight # 10
THE BRITISH SUPER-LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
12 X 3 Minute Rounds
TYRONE NURSE 9st 13lbs 14oz V JOE HUGHES 9st 13lbs 4oz

Fight # 11
THE VACANT MIDLANDS AREA SUPER-FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
10 X 3 Minute Rounds
LYON WOODSTOCK 9st 3lbs 11oz V PAUL HOLT 9st 3lbs 8oz

Fight # 12
THE WBO INTERIM WORLD MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
12 X 3 Minute Rounds
TOMMY LANGFORD 11st 5lbs 14oz V AVTANDIL KHURTSIDZE 11st 5lbs 1oz

Fight # 13
8 X 3 Minute Rounds International Middleweight Contest
ALEX HUGHES 11st 7lbs 13oz V DANIEL URBANSKI 11st 13lbs 14oz

Langford hoping for victory over Khurtsidze

Baggies bomber Tommy Langford is hoping a victory over Avtandil Khurtsidze for the WBO Interim Middleweight Title will secure an all-British showdown with World Champion Billy Joe Saunders.

On Saturday night the unbeaten British Champion headlines the Leicester Arena, with a full undercard in support featuring Anthony Yarde, Tyrone Nurse, Daniel Dubois, Lyon Woodstock Jr and more.

“When the fight was offered, I was more than happy to say yes and take it,” Langford told BoxNation. “Winning this puts you front of the queue for Billy Joe Saunders. I don’t know if he’s got a big fight or not, but if not he must fight me.

“That’s a big domestic fight there in itself, something I’ve always wanted. This means I can’t be avoided so I have to win this fight,” stated the Birmingham boxer.

Saunders had been hoping to secure a Middleweight unification with Gennady Golovkin for all the belts this summer, but if the fight fails to materialise, he may be forced to look at other options.

“Originally you’re thinking that the Golovkin fight would happen in the meantime, and you’re gonna be there [as a] certainty to fight the winner. But if he doesn’t get that – and it’s looking more suspect now – then it has to happen! Why shouldn’t it happen in the summer? [First] I’ve got to win Saturday night,” added Langford.

“I’ve never been shy about saying I’d fancy the Billy Joe fight, and I fancy myself to beat Billy Joe. He’s a very good, top operator and he found a way to win despite his performance [against Artur Akavov]. You’re in the game to fight for titles, he’s got one and I want it!”

Birmingham’s Tommy Langford faces ‘mini Mike Tyson’ Avtandil Khurtsidze for the WBO Interim Middleweight World Title in the evening’s main event; local lad Jahmaine ‘Smasher’ Smyle (14-4-2, 6 KOs) makes the second defence of his English Super-Middleweight strap against unbeaten Londoner Darryl Williams (14-0, 6 KOs).

Slick South African Zolani Tete (24-3, 20 KOs) faces Arthur Villanueva in a final eliminator for the WBO World Bantamweight Championship; KO king Anthony Yarde (9-0, 8 KOs) will be looking to extend his unbeaten record into double figures and Heavyweight starlet ‘Dangerous’ Daniel Dubois fights for the second time as a pro against Blaise Mendouo.

Remaining tickets priced £30 are available from www.ticketmaster.co.uk

Avtandil Khurtsidze faces Tommy Langford on Saturday on Boxnation

Avtandil Khurtsidze, the WBO #1 ranked Middleweight contender, has arrived in England and is putting the finishing touches on his preparation for Saturday’s WBO Interim Championship clash versus #3 Tommy Langford, broadcast live on BT Sport and BoxNation.

Along with claiming the Interim Championship, the winner of this weekend’s hotly-anticipated showdown will be named the mandatory challenger to WBO Middleweight Champion Billy Joe Saunders.

Khurtsidze (32-2-2, 21 KOs), a native of Kutasi, Georgia, has been patiently waiting for an opportunity like this. He turned pro in 2002 and three of the four blemishes on his record came in his first 10 fights, all before 2006. Since then, Khurtsidze has compiled a 25-1 record, only losing a close decision to two-time title challenger Hassan N’Dam in 2010 in N’Dam’s home country of France.

“I am very excited to finally get this opportunity,” said Khurtsidze. “I’ve worked real hard these last few years to get another shot at a World Title and I will give my best on Saturday to achieve my dream. It will be an honor to add the first loss to Tommy Langford’s record and to seize the Interim WBO Middleweight World Title. After I defeat Langford, Saunders is next.”

Despite his 15 years as a professional, Khurtsidze, 36, saved his most impressive performance for last. In March 2016, Khurtsidze knocked out previously undefeated Antoine Douglas on a special edition of “ShoBox: The New Generation”. Khurtsidze dominated Douglas from the opening bell with nonstop power punching, knocking Douglas down twice, before Douglas–exhausted and barely able to stand–was finally stopped in round 10.

The win over Douglas earned Khurtsidze his #1 ranking and the adulation of the national boxing media. Dan Rafael of ESPN.com referred to the fight as “a bruising performance in which [Khurtsidze] doled out such extensive punishment to Douglas that his career may be altered forever.” USA Today called Khurtsidze “a human brick wall barreling forward.”

Khurtsidze’s ferocious punching and his diminutive stature–he stands at just 5’4″–have earned him the nickname “Mini Mike Tyson” among boxing fans.

As part of his training to fight Langford, Khurtsidze spent time in California with Danny Jacobs as part of Jacobs’ preparation to fight Gennady Golovkin. Khurtsidze and Jacobs are both trained by Andre Rozier.

“Training camp has been great,” said Khurtsidze. “My trainers Andre Rozier and Gary Stark always bring out the best in me, and getting to work with a world class fighter and champion like Danny Jacobs really helped to sharpen my technique ahead of this very important task in front of me. On Saturday, I will be ready for anything Langford tries to do.”

Langford (18-0, 6 KOs), the reigning British, Commonwealth and WBO Inter-Continental Middleweight Champion, will not just have a height advantage. He’ll also have the support of his hometown fans; Langford lives in Birmingham, England, less than an hour from Leicester.

“This fight on Saturday for the interim WBO middleweight world title is a hard-earned and well-deserved opportunity for Avtandil,” said Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment. “His victory over Antoine Douglas last year was remarkable and I know Khurtsidze will do his best to replicate that performance in England against Tommy Langford.”

Remaining tickets for Saturday’s action priced £30 are available from www.ticketmaster.co.uk

Email
WhatsApp
Tweet
Share