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Talking Boxing

Interviews, opinions, features and news from the greatest sport in the world!

November 23, 2016

Stand and deliver

Enzo Maccarinelli

Langford is ready to take on any opportunity that comes his way.

by SHAUN BROWN

A year in boxing can never be described as quiet for a fighter. Inside or outside the ring there is always something going on that keeps people talking, and the column inches filled. For Tommy Langford (17-0, 6 KOs), the past 11 months has seen him win the Commonwealth middleweight title, move up to number two in the WBO middleweight rankings and have his time wasted by Chris Eubank Sr and Jr. With all that behind him, Langford turns to November 26 in Cardiff where he fights Sam Sheedy for the vacant 160lbs British title.

Talking Boxing caught up with the 27-year-old die hard West Bromwich Albion fan to get his thoughts on Sheedy, Billy Joe Saunders, the Eubank's and more.

TB: How’s things going for your next fight?

TL: Yeah, all good. The hiccups we’ve had in preparations in terms of Eubank pulling out (Eubank Jr. withdrew from a British title defence against Langford citing an elbow injury as the reason) and getting Sheedy wasn't great, but we’re fighting for the British title. Then the delay, it’s been a bit of a pain but it’s boxing and these things happen. It’s taken me a while to say that about it because it did frustrate me, because the initial date I had loads of fans coming to that one. Unfortunately, the new date clashes with the Wales v South Africa rugby. Obviously all my fans are travelling, and they can’t get hotels. It’s done me over in that sense, but it is what it is. I’m still fighting for the British title and I’m looking forward to it. If anything, since the new date was announced the training camp’s been a lot smoother because there’s a clear set goal of what we’re doing. We haven’t got to deal with that nonsense from the Eubank’s, it’s just straight forward, gotta prepare for the fight, and fight and win. That’s the gameplan, that’s it. Done.

TB: Are you still expecting a large number of fans to travel to see you?

TL: I done about 2,000 tickets personally for the initial date (October 22). Unfortunately, I’ve had about half of them drop off which is a big drop, but I’ve still got a 1,000 people travelling which is good for travelling away. That’s good numbers. I’ve still got good support going, my fans are great really. No-one wants to pull out, but finances and people can’t do it. I can’t blame them either.

TB: Just changing subject for now, your reaction to the news that Frank Warren has signed a deal with BT Sport?

TL: It’s massive. I heard a whisper, but you’re very in the dark on things. Massive, a massive thing for everybody in the Frank Warren stable and for Boxnation, and for Frank Warren. It’s a big, big thing. Obviously, BT Sport are going to want to compete with Sky Sports and their aim will be to blow them out the water. That’s the goal and if anyone can put on the shows, he’s done it in the past, Frank can do it. He’s put on huge, huge shows in the past when he was behind Sky Sports and Box Office. It’s a massive thing for anyone fighting in that stable, and I’m really, really happy it’s happened. Obviously, Boxnation is fantastic, but to have the backing of BT Sport... it’s giant financial backing. It makes such a significant difference and the for the promotions and the production it’s a brilliant thing.

TB: Moving on to the Sam Sheedy fight, would you say he is, on paper, your toughest opponent to date?

TL: I’m not really sure. If you look at the fighters I’ve fought; Lewis Taylor was English champion at the time I beat him and he had a better record (18-1), and had been in with better fighters than Sam Sheedy up to that point. Sam Sheedy is a more awkward opponent in the way that he fights. He’s a slippery southpaw. He’s going to present different problems for me. But if you look at last year, I fought Cristian Rios. Although people think he’s just a foreign import he drew with (Jorge Sebastian) Heiland who knocked out (Matthew) Macklin, and since fighting me he’s been avoided. I did a good job on him but since then no-one’s wanted to go near him, and the last person he boxed was David Lemieux who was a world champion. If you take those things into consideration you’d say he (Sheedy) probably isn’t, but he presents a different sort of awkwardness. It’s a different task, and it’s a task that if you’re not in the right frame of mind, and don’t have the right tactics in place, he’ll make things very hard for you. And Sheedy’s got the capabilities to give anyone a hard fight. Without a shadow of a doubt I have to be at my tip top best.

TB: If you win the British title do you want to win it outright or keep going down the WBO route where you’re ranked number two?

TL: I’ve always been a believer that you can get tied up in the domestic scene. I’ve said this from day dot with anybody, I do believe I can defend my belt and win it outright. I’m quite confident of fighting anybody that’s thrown at me in Britain and beating them. But you can get dragged down in domestic fights, and all you need is a cut, a mistake, an accident, a bad camp... there’s a lot of things that can go wrong and it’s a long time. It’s pretty much a year of your career in order to own that belt outright. I’m not saying I’m going to vacate and disappear. I plan on defending it but if opportunities arise up the ladder, i.e WBO world or European (then) I’m jumping at them. I’m in the sport for opportunities and that’s what I want, and I do genuinely believe I can compete at that level and win titles. That’s where I want to go. It’s a different thing getting the fight. With Billy Joe being champion you would think it wouldn’t be too hard, but now he’s got to do two mandatories back to back. If I’m not a mandatory then that shot is potentially gone. You’ve got to take what opportunities arise and keep plugging away, and keep doing the job in the ring whether it’s British, European, World, whatever. As long as I’m fighting, keeping busy and winning titles I’m happy. If the bigger things come up I’m taking them.

TB: Have you thought about a Saunders fight? Being that high with the WBO it must have crossed your mind?

TL: I’ve thought about it. At some point I thought I’d get offered the fight but, this is just a business sense, I don’t think the fight has made business sense - business wise for either of us. I believe, no matter what fans say, it is a tough fight for Billy Joe at his best. And him having such a long lay-off I’m a nightmare to fight. Saying that, if the fight is made Billy Joe will have it. I know him as well, he won’t duck away from nobody. He will genuinely fight anyone, but he has to be paid his dues so I don’t think the fight is of a big enough magnitude and media attention. You’ve got to get the performances right at the right time, you have to be on the right shows at the right time. I think I had a really good performance back in December (against Robert Swierzbinski) when he beat Andy Lee, and people started talking about it happening. Then I didn’t box particularly great for the Commonwealth title, and the idea gets forgotten about. So it just takes one good performance from me and you can be jumped back up into that bracket, but I have thought about and talked about (it), and I’m very comfortable with taking the fight. I’ve known Billy Joe my whole amateur and pro career. We’re all the same age and he was that bit ahead of the rest of the pack on the England squad and things, and that’s why he went to the Olympics so young. But since turning pro I feel like I’ve caught up with him. Now, I’d be more than willing to take the fight. But there’s more than two parties involved when you try to make a world title fight and negotiations have to take place, it’s not as simple as if I want it, it will happen. There’s other elements in the equation.

TB: You mentioned the word “magnitude”. You could argue that a fight between you and him is bigger than the fight he’s involved in against Akavov.

TL: A 100%. Who he’s fighting, Akavov -  he’s relatively unknown which is a gamble in itself. Could be on of those Russians that are completely unknown and comes out the blue as a world beater, because they’re all relatively well schooled out there. I definitely feel a fight with me and Saunders definitely sells better than if he fought any of the other ranked fighters in the WBO, with the exception of Lemieux because of his backing. (Ryota) Murata, because he’s got such a big following in Asia. They’re the two big names and two good fighters who would potentially grab more attention. I think that me and Saunders, out the rest of them, would be the better fight. Like I said, unless I get myself to the mandatory spot, fighting for the British doesn’t get me there, but it’s the British title so I wanna do it. But unless I get myself to the mandatory spot pretty quick it’s going to be pretty hard for that fight to happen. I hope it does, I hope something happens. I hope I can get pushed to the number one spot in 2017. If it doesn’t I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing because I know the shots will come down the line.

TL: And is there anything more to be said about the Eubank’s?

TL: (Laughs) At the time I was fuming. It’s well documented after everything that was said, I don’t believe that he wanted to fight me from the word go. I just wish he’d vacated earlier, and made a different excuse of it saying he’s going to move and look at different things because you can stomach it a bit better as a boxer rather than making a lame excuse about it. The long and short it I won’t be looking to fight or deal with the Eubank’s again. It’s done. I think that’s the same with Billy Joe, the only reason it comes back in the equation is because of the money that’s put on the table. Personally, I think he’ll (Eubank Jr) move up a division. It’s known he’s been struggling at the weight a little bit. I don’t think he’ll have anything that I really want so from now on. I don’t see the fight coming into play ever again. I’m quite happy with it really, I don’t really think anything of them. I think they’re a waste of time.

TB: Going back to the Sheedy fight, you had a bit of a scrap with Lewis Taylor but with this you’re certainly going to have to be a lot more concentrated in what you do.

TL: Without a doubt. This is something we’ve been really working on in the training camp. I made mistakes in the Taylor fight, thankfully I come through and done a job. Done it well enough. It’s not the style you want to win in. You want to look good. I’m very confident in saying that I can beat Sheedy, but in order to beat him and look good doing it I’ve got to get the tactics right. He is the sort of fighter that can cause you problems. He’s awkward, he’s a southpaw, he does some strange things in there. We’ve got a strategy down with how to fight him. I know what I’m doing with southpaws, I’ve got a lot of experience with very good southpaws throughout my career. It’s not something that daunts me because I know what southpaws do and what they look for in punches. I can counteract that. That’s not something I’m worried about. I know exactly what I’m going to do on the night. I’ll deliver and I will be British champion but it’s a case of sticking to the gameplan, keeping my head, keeping calm and delivering the job. Rather than getting carried away with the moment of "It’s a British title!" I think that is a case of what happened with the Commonwealth (title fight). The title overtook my mindset, I thought "Just want to win this title". Rather than really focusing. I’ve had that experience now, I don’t think Sam Sheedy has had that experience of being in a big fight, a domestic or Commonwealth title fight. He’s not had that situation before. I’ve had that situation. I know I’ve made mistakes, but I know I’ve corrected them. It’s about delivering the polished performance on the night, that’s what gets you to being the champion and gets you over the line. That’s what it’s got to be. I think with his style he’s reliant on me making mistakes. He needs me to make mistakes for him to do well. It’s up to me to deliver the performance and not make the mistakes.