British middleweight boss Tommy Langford intends sending sawn off slugger Avantil Khurtsidze back to Georgia short changed, writes Glynn Evans.
The stylish six foot Brummie skilster intends capitalising on his superior size, savvy and youth – not to mention crucial home court – when he collides with the 5ft 4in ‘Tornado’ in a classic boxer-brawler bang-up for the ‘interim’ WBO strap at Leicester Arena tonight.
But the 27 year old Baggie Bomber knows that it’ll take a career best effort to repel the 32-2-2 WBO mandatory contender who has forced most of the division’s leading lights to hide behind the sofa!
‘Khurtsidze’s a serious test,’ concedes the classy Tom Chaney coached star, who has won 18 straight since debuting in September 2012.
‘He’s much avoided, very dangerous and he’ll be coming to knock me out. He’s perceived as super strong and has a big rep for toughness in New York City so hopefully I’ll get my props in the US when I beat him in style!
‘Avtandil’s beaten decent level opposition but probably his best performance was his close loss to Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam for the ‘interim’ WBA title over in Paris. Hassan is clearly world class.
‘But that was when Khurtsidze was 31 and in his prime. You can’t tell me he’s improved now that he’s almost 38, seven years on!
‘Personally, I don’t think he carries one shot kayo power. It’s more he’s very aggressive and relentless; systematically drains you. But he’ll be in front of me – he doesn’t know any different – which is what I want.
‘He’s there to be hit. He seldom wins on ‘shutouts’. Opponents always take rounds off him, always get change out of him.’
Upright and angular, and blessed with impressive lung power, the lean and lithe Langford routinely enjoys a sway in height and reach when he enters the battle zone. Nevertheless, he concedes that the visitor’s lack of inches will force him to make adjustments.
‘It’s always nice to enjoy a couple of inches advantage in height and reach but, when they’re THAT short, it probably becomes a disadvantage,’ he acknowledges.
‘For a start, Khurtsidze always fights much taller guys. Punching downwards, you can leave yourself open to certain things but there’s ways to counter and nullify that which I’ll be working on with Tom. You can’t miss with the first punch because once Khurtsidze’s inside, he’s all over ya like a middleweight Mike Tyson.
‘I met a couple like him in the amateurs but I’ve not fought anyone similar in the pros and it’s been very hard to find sparring to match his strength AND stature. I’ve done some quality work with (quadruple world title challenger) Martin Murray who’s very strong but a completely different shape and we’ve had Stefy Bull’s (5ft 3in 2012 Cameroon Olympian) Serge Ambomo over, but he’s only a welter. Still, we know the tactic we need. We know where we’ve got to aim.’
With BT Sport and BoxNation screening live in the UK, and the Leicester Arena – home of The Riders basketball franchise – expected to be rammed to bursting point, Langford has the perfect platform to showcase his considerable wares across the globe.
‘It’s the recipe for a very exciting fight; high octane!’ he predicts.
‘Khurtsidze ‘s been out of the ring for over a year so he’s going to come out flying, set a high pace and try to knock me out. That’s the only way he can go. He’ll try to bull his way inside and beat me up. But who’s pushed him back yet? How does he react when that happens?
Khurtsidze doesn’t put a lot of thought into his work, he just throws and throws and throws. I’ve never been outworked but, unlike him, I can also add educated movement. He’ll discover strength and toughness are no tactic when you’re getting your head jabbed off!
‘I’ll hit him first, hit him hard and hit him often. I intend to make Khurtsidze look silly!’