TALL ORDER FOR TOMMY BUT HOME ADVANTAGE WILL HELP
By Frank Warren
The second episode of the absorbing series put on across BT Sport and BoxNation comes live from the Leicester Arena on Saturday evening and, believe me, it will be well worth tuning in.
Tommy Langford, no question about it, faces a tall order – or a rather short one at 5ft 4″ – in the shape of the formidable Georgian Avtandil Khurtsidze.
Khurtsidze – the No.1 ranked middleweight by the WBO – is not called mini-Mike Tyson without good reason. He is stocky, relentless and he can bang.
It is probably why he has been avoided so stealthily by most of the top middleweights.
Tommy’s date with the Brooklyn-based banger for the WBO Interim world title was part of a deal we put together that also involved Billy Joe Saunders having a unification fight against Gennady Golovkin.
We are still awaiting a resolution on that part of the package so, as it stands at the moment, the winner of Khurtsidze-Langford will fight Billy Joe for the full title by the end of June if the unification doesn’t materialise.
It is a fantastic opportunity for Tommy, although he is far from favourite with the bookies heading into the fight. This why we hope securing him home advantage will pay dividends.
Tommy will enjoy athletic advantages, given the height of Khurtsidze, but he mustn’t get drawn into a close-up war. He needs to keep it nice and long and keep him on the end of a well-aimed jab.
I must say, it is always refreshing to deal with a fighter like Tommy, someone who is always so willing to roll the dice and test himself at a higher level.
He is definitely not one who wants to pad his record with routine paydays and he needs no second asking when you propose an opponent who presents a significant risk.
Tommy has got something to prove at the top level, but that is what he is determined to do, to demonstrate that he has got what it takes to tussle with the top boys.
Khurtsidze is a tough and rugged operator, so Tommy is really going to have to bring something we haven’t seen from him before to the ring on the night because this fella takes no prisoners and will be hunting him down from the off.
Many a fighter has got cold feet when the prospect of fighting Khurtsidze reached the negotiating table but, for Tommy, it was just ‘bring it on’.
He will have an army of fans supporting him in Leicester because tickets have sold really well for this one and I am sure the ‘sold out’ signs will be hanging at the doors on the night.
Tommy might not be the best known middleweight in the business but, if he upsets the odds on Saturday, then he will have hit the jackpot with many lucrative nights ahead.
More from Frank tomorrow