Middleweight prospect Tommy Langford reflects on his training camp for his first ten round contest against Wayne Reed at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall on February 14th. Birmingham-based Langford 11-0-0, originally from Devon, goes against Reed 11-9-0 in the chief supporting fight to the Stephen Ormond v Terry Flanagan clash.
The unbeaten middleweight remarked, “All my sparring is done now, last spar was last night, a sharp six three-minute rounds. I did three rounds with Craig Cunningham and three with Grant Cunningham. I’m more than satisfied with my fitness.
“The last spar really is a case of keeping it fast and sharp and hopefully not taking any bumps or nicks and just making sure you got the timing together.
“It was good to get a southpaw in with Craig (Cunningham), also had a good kid on Saturday in Damon Jones.
“Craig Cunningham 11-0-0 is in the Prizefighter Middleweights Tournament in Blackpool on the same night as me and Grant Cunningham 10-0-0 has got Damon Jones 12-0-0 in an English middleweight title eliminator on 28th Feb.”
The 25-year-old will move past six rounds for the first time in his two and a half year professional career but has no concerns on going the distance.
He explains, “I’ve done one ten rounder in sparring to make sure I could do the rounds, it was six with Damon Jones and four with a light-heavyweight amateur boxer, Ryan Haytham. It was a real high-paced spar, Jones only did six rounds with me so he kept up a good six round pace at a good intensity, then with Ryan jumping in and he was completely fresh for four rounds.
“He’s a light heavyweight, borderline cruiserweight. When amateurs jump in with you there’s a big difference in the way they fight, as in a lot more on their toes, lots of movement, so much movement that you have got to try to cut them down. As they only do three or four rounds at a time they can keep that pace up and it’s up to you to try and break them down.
In the amateurs, you don’t really need to reserve the energy because you’ve just got three rounds to get through. With sparring amateurs it’s very in and out and 100mph so it keeps you on your toes so when going back to sparring an amateur, it really sharpens you up.”
With the fight failing on just the seventh week of the year, training had to commence during the festive period last year.
Langford confirmed, “Altogether, I’ve done an eight week camp, started two weeks before Christmas. I still went home to Devon with family but had to put the graft in and continue the sessions. Just getting the base fitness in with running and getting in the gym, when I got back to Birmingham I started the sparring with six weeks to go.
“I’ve done, on average, 20 rounds a week for five weeks so close to 100 rounds altogether. I’m building up a nice sparring portfolio now, I really get on well with Gary Locket the trainer and the boys in his gym such as Alex Hughes and Liam Williams. We always sparred a lot, me and Liam, but he had a hand operation just before Christmas so I did a lot of rounds with Alex Hughes this time.
“He’s a very sharp counter-puncher and still a young pro so only couple of fights in so far but got a bit of the amateur style in him still as in he’s very much a sharp counter-puncher, picks punches very well and frustrates. He’s a good lad and he’ll do very well in the pro’s.”
On his portfolio of sparring partners, Langford elaborates, “I’ve had good sparring with Andrew Robinson – he is very strong and raw, comes forward and always makes you work. Prizefighter lads Craig Cunningham, Cello Renda have been great for me also, and Damon Jones in an English eliminator and his opponent Grant Cunningham have been great.
“I’m as sharp as I need to be now, got my last speed session tonight which is all about high intensity work. It’s a bit different as it’s short, sharp, intense work, such as one minute rounds on the bag, blasting it for a minute then 15 seconds rest. It’s all high-paced, there’s speed skipping with 10 seconds slow, 10 fast for 15 minutes non-stop. Shadow boxing too, speed for five seconds then back to normal, basically loads of sprints to get the heart rate going up and down. Normally finish up on running sprints in the car park outside.
Next week, I’ll just be on the pads, drop the last little bit of weight and that’s me done.”
The last week of training camp is notoriously difficult to handle, he explains, “I gradually get more and more worked up over the week, I’m not the nicest person to be around in that week, so I’m told! Obviously you’re making weight, training isn’t hard and you’re just going through the motions so you get lots of built up aggression and energy and you just want to release it really.”
Langford moved from Devon to Birmingham to train with respected coach Tom Chaney who guided Frankie Gavin through a highly decorated amateur career to winning the British and Commonwealth welterweight titles.
Each fight, a coach load of Devonians invade the West Midlands and provide great support to their boxing hero.
“I’ve got about 150-160 in support in terms of numbers on the night. I was hoping to do 200 but being Valentine’s Day, I lost a few!”
Langford is moving closer to a title shot and will use the ten round contest as a base to challenge for a credible major title in the next few months. This is the first occasion that Langford has been chief support to the headlining event and is relishing the opportunity to perform on bigger stages in the future.