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British middleweight title fight added to Groves-Eubank undercard


British middleweight title fight added to Groves-Eubank undercard

Tommy Langford’s (18-1) maiden British middleweight title defence to the no.1 challenger Jack Arnfield (24-2) has been added to the Groves v Eubank Jr undercard in Manchester on February 17. Promoter Frank Warren initially won the rights to the fight last year but due to no contracts being received by the British Boxing Board of Control, the contest was put back out to purse bids, which Arnfield’s manager Steve Wood of VIP Promotions surprisingly won.

The contest was initially slated to take place in Blackpool, Arnfield’s hometown, at the end of February, but an arrangement with Sauerland Promotions has seen the fight brought forward in date to take place on the World Boxing Super Series super-middleweights semi-final between world champions, Groves and Eubank. Birmingham’s Langford has been waiting for over a year to defend the honours that he won with a mixed decision over Sam Sheedy back in November 2016.

Langford enthused, “I’m delighted to be fighting on such a big event to a new audience on ITV who may not have seen me fight before. “It’s been 14-months since I won the title so I’m chomping at the bit to get back in the ring to defend it finally. “I’m going to put on a career-best performance and I want my reign as the British champion to be remembered for beating the no.1 challenger in style.” Arnfield was installed as the mandatory challenger by the BBBofC in June last year, three months after triumphing over Brian Rose at the Manchester Arena in a defence of his WBA International title.

‘The Baggies Bomber’ was initially set to give fellow Brummie Craig Cunningham the title shot in a voluntary defence after he shocked Anthony Ogogo to win the WBC International middleweight a month before Langford bagged the Lonsdale belt.

However, a far better opportunity emerged when the WBO presented the top-two ranked fighters in their standings a chance to win the interim World middleweight title to land a shot at the full champion Billy Joe Saunders next. Georgian Avtandil Khurtsidze was top of the list in the World Boxing Organisation’s 160-pound rankings, with Langford in second place after four successful defences of his WBO Inter-Continental strap.

The pair fought at the Leicester Arena in April last year, live on BT Sport, and the travelling fighter showed the hometown boy just why he is referred to as the ‘Mini Mike Tyson’ when he caught Langford flush on the chin with a lunging left hook. The Birmingham resident bravely rose to his feet and looked ok to continue, but a slight unsteadiness showed in his legs, resulting in experienced official Phil Edwards’ decision to wave the fight off. At the time, Khurtsidze was known as a colourful character but he’s now been caught out as a convicted criminal after being arrested on RICO charges at his home in New York.

Exactly one month before his scheduled July 8 world title fight with WBO king Billy Joe Saunders, his reward for defeating the no.2 seeded Langford, the 38-year-old was arrested on racketeer charges and conspiracy to commit fraud, along with 32 others, linking him in a Russian and Georgian crime syndicate. Langford’s loss on the world stage dropped his stock with the WBO out of the top-10 down to 11th place, but he has firm plans to fight again on the world stage soon. He confirmed, “I’ve learnt from my loss at the world level and won’t make that mistake again; I’ll be polished and ready, and I will return back to the top.”

The February 17 British middleweight championship contest between champion Langford and mandatory challenger Arnfield is set to be an exciting and intriguing 50-50 fight for the purists between two of the best operators in the British 160-pound scene. For tickets to the WBSS event, please visit http://www.tommylangford.co.uk/tickets/ To follow Tommy Langford on Twitter, click here @Tommy_Langford1 Tommy Langford would like to thank his sponsors TX ODDS, BLK Sport, UK Display Stands, JS Wright & Co Ltd, All Car Leasing, Strategy Plus, Atlas Pain Relief, Ringside UK and Agent Tim Rickson


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