Langford: “Richards Hasn’t Fought Anybody – This Is A Big Step Up For Him!”
TOMMY LANGFORD BELIEVES his Wembley opponent Lerrone Richards has got it all to prove when the pair collide with the vacant Commonwealth super middleweight title at stake at the SSE Arena on April 27.
Former British middleweight champion Langford is on the rebuild, having moved up in weight after twice being deemed to have come up short on the cards in two epic title battles with Jason Welborn.
His only other setback came when he challenged for the WBO Interim world middleweight title against Avtandil Khurtsidze, who was later imprisoned for organised criminal activity in New York.
The 29-year-old, who took up a day job as an adult trainee electrician when remaining a full-time athlete was no long viable, is now thrilled to be back in the title picture after suspecting he wouldn’t fit the bill as an ideal opponent.
He was wrong on that score and Commonwealth success would near enough restore his previous standing at the higher weight.
“Of course it does and I really didn’t think an opportunity would come this fast for me, having moved up in weight,” he confessed.” I thought I would kind of be kept out in the dark for quite a while because I don’t see that anybody would really pick me as an opponent.
Even in the fights I lost – and I really don’t believe I lost to Jason Welborn, they were fights of the year – he had the fight of his life, while the one that knocked me out was a juiced up little Georgian anyway.
“Obviously I have been thrown this chance and it is an absolutely huge opportunity and I am really grateful to Frank and Francis (Warren) for giving it to me.”
While Langford doesn’t consider himself anyone’s first pick on the matchmaker’s menu, much the same could be said for Richards, for whom very few have been prepared to form an orderly queue to face.
“I seem to keep getting people like this that people don’t really want to fight and I say yes,” pointed out the Tom Chaney-trained Langford. “I don’t know what the crack is with Lerrone, who I have sparred and he is a very slick southpaw, but he has not really fought anybody.
“Is that through not wanting the fights or more that nobody wants to fight him?
“It is a big, big step up for him and we’ll find out what he’s really got,” added the former WBO Intercontinental champion, who does concede that Richards could well be a fully paid up member of the ‘who needs him’ club.
“He is really, isn’t he? He is an awkward southpaw, not a big ticket seller, hasn’t been knocking people out and is not particularly exciting for TV viewers. So who really wants to fight Lerrone?
“You don’t think ‘I’ll pick him’, but he is a very good operator and I wouldn’t be daft and say he isn’t. But there is a difference between the sparring arena and the fight arena and he’s not fought at championship level or remotely near the level I have fought at.”
LERRONE RICHARDS HAS promised that fans will see a new version of him when he returns to the ring to fight for the Commonwealth title at the SSE Arena on April 27.
The strapping super middleweight fights the former WBO Interim world title challenger Tommy Langford for the vacant belt at Wembley, one that he hopes will be the beginning of a short road towards British honours later in the year.
The 26-year-old from New Malden has just three stoppages on his ledger from 11 fights so far and has sometimes been labelled as ‘one for the purists’, with him often being content to unpick his opponents over full distance rather than apply an early finish.
The stylish southpaw, however, is a devoted disciple of the sweet science, although he does acknowledge that his approach has resulted in prospective opponents being a bit thin on the ground.
“Do you know what, I’ve been very, very patient and there have been times when I thought I wasn’t going to get a fight,” admitted Richards, also known as ‘Sniper the Boss’.
“I am just glad I have got this fight and it is time for me to shine. No excuses now. Serious business.
“I am part of the ‘who wants him’ club! It is the sweet science style and people don’t want to fight.”
Richards pondered the question when asked if criticism of him not closing fights out from a dominant position is valid. Commentators have suggested that he tends to enjoy his own work a little too much whilst in the ring.
“It’s a good question,” he conceded. “I just feel that I’ve done what I had to do. I have enjoyed it a lot and people do criticise me for not finishing the show.
“You’ll see a new Lerrone Richards on the night, trust me,” he added, confirming that his own gym-mate Bradley Skeete has also encouraged him over the need to make statement performances in the ring.
“Absolutely, although I think people underrate my punching power because I can hit. I am just a purist and I love the sweet science of boxing. We’ll see what happens on the night.”