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.”