Tommy Langford sparred regularly with Liam Smith and Chris Eubank Jr
Langford: “Stylistically, it’s a real exciting fight! I want Liam Smith to win, and I believe he can, but it’s going to be hard.”
Former British, Commonwealth and WBO Inter-Continental middleweight champion Tommy Langford spoke exclusively to BBN about the forthcoming Chris Eubank Jr vs Liam Smith clash in Manchester on January 21.
Just three weeks into the New Year, it’s only the second boxing event to take place in the UK schedule for 2023, with a Kynoch Boxing show in Scotland preceding it on the Friday night.
The former British and world champions will clash at middleweight for 12-rounds at the 20,000-capacity AO Arena, promoted by BOXXER, shown live on Sky Sports.
A regular sparring partner to Liam smith, Devon-born Langford boxed out of the Hall Green Gym in Birmingham all through his seven-year professional career that came to a close four years ago in 2019. He won national amateur and professional titles under the guidance of top trainer Tom Chaney and counted Frankie Gavin as his teammate.
Nicknamed ‘The Baggies Bomber’ by his faithful West Bromwich Albion following, Langford won the vacant British title in his 18th fight against Sam Sheedy in November 2016, although he was originally scheduled to challenge the champion Eubank Jr the month before, but he withdrew through injury and relinquished the title instead.
Still slightly annoyed by this, all these years later, Tommy managed to give an impartial and interesting insight into the fight that takes place just 21 days into the New Year.
“Obviously I’ve sparred both of them; sparred Liam Smith quite a lot in the build up to a lot of his fights and for a couple of my fights, then I did a week down in Brighton sparring with Eubank and we’ve got a bit of history in the fact that he got tennis elbow and shit it [from me].
“Stylistically, it’s a real exciting fight! I’m really looking forward to watching it. I want Liam Smith to win, and I believe he can, but it’s going to be hard.
“Liam’s a stubborn fighter but he’s very clever and he’s underrated really, and I massively rate him, he’s got great ring generalship and knowledge, he’ll have a definite plan of what to stick to. He’s sparred him before himself, so they’ve already got knowledge of each other.
“The only thing about this fight now is that he is that little bit older than he was, Eubank is still pretty fresh, he’s not really had any extremely hard fights, so he’s fairly fresh still. His physicality is one thing he does possess over Liam Smith, he is a bigger guy, faster and sharper, but I don’t think he hits any harder, in my experience.
“The fight is at middleweight and I think that could suit Liam Smith more than it could Eubank, even though he’s more of a natural middleweight, but he used to gas in fights, he used to really struggle with his fatigue at middleweight, he’ll fight in bursts but if he does that against Liam…
“Liam doesn’t particularly start fights fast, he starts measured as he goes through the gears and gradually takes it to another level and becomes quite dangerous in the later rounds. He’s really cute with his shots and catches you unawares. It’s just a case of whether the explosiveness or physicality of Eubank is too much for Smith; but boxing-wise I can’t see him matching Smith.
“It’s what catches the judges’ eye; will it be the big, explosive flurries and uppercuts of Eubank that catches the judges’ eye, or will it be the real clever, precise work of Smith?
“Eubank’s last win was against Liam Williams, which was a while ago now [February 2020] obviously Smith and Williams had the two fights and Smith won both of them, but Williams, when he fought Eubank, I don’t know where his punch resistance had gone; I feel like that was due to weight issues. I’ve known him for years, he’s a tough guy, I’ve never seen him hurt, and I don’t think he was really that badly hurt when he fought Eubank, it was just like his punch resistance had gone all of a sudden, he never showed that in any previous fights; I suppose the Demetrius Andrade fight, maybe. And that did shock me the fact that Eubank dropped him, but if you look at that the fight, apart from the rounds that he dropped him in, I give a lot of those rounds to Williams.
“I know I’m quite quick to criticise Eubank, but he can fight, I’ve never denied the fact he can fight and he’s a tough competitor, but he’s not a great boxer.
“Smith has kind of been on a run, I fully expected the win over Fowler, and you’re talking about the level of opposition being high, like Jessie Vargas.”
“I don’t see either of them stopping the other one, I think it’s a scorecards one. To be fair to Eubank he’s always been tough and took shots well, and apart from the Canelo fight, I’ve never seen Smith hurt. I think he showed a lot of mettle in that fight, I know he got stopped but he was in there all the way with him, he’s really underrated in his ability.
“I remember when sparring him, tactically his approaches to sparring and fighting is very good and he’s very stubborn, sticks to his tactics and I think that can be a really important factor in fighting Eubank, not to get waylaid or dragged into Eubank’s fight.
“I don’t think Eubank will ever get under his skin, he might bite back on camera, he’ll have a go back at him, but he wouldn’t be intimidated by him ever. I don’t believe for one second it will affect him mentally in the build up to the fight it’ll just be tongue in cheek.”
“I never really got the whole Roy Jones Jr team-up, personally. He’s a little bit different in certain things he does, it’s almost Roy Jones is trying to make him fight like Roy Jones. The Morrison fight, I felt that Eubank should have walked through him, no disrespect to Marcus Morrison whatsoever, he’s a good fighter, but I felt like he tried to fight like Roy Jones Jr in that fight, but you’re not Roy Jones Jr and you can never replicated what he can do, you ain’t got that ability in you.
“I don’t think he ever really outboxed Liam Williams, apart from the rounds he dropped him in I didn’t see there was ever a gulf between them, I scored more of the rounds actually for Williams, but he couldn’t turn back the deficit.
“He does a few little things differently, like he uses the jab, which he never did before, and a bit more of the flicky, lighter stuff. I haven’t really seen a huge amount of technical changes to his style. Maybe he’s a bit more sensible in his approach or he’s realised he’s not this big, dangerous puncher he always thought he was. Because he used come out all explosive and try to blow people away but the reality is that, at world level, he hasn’t got that power, so maybe he’s taking a different approach and I’m not sure it suits him. I always thought he was more effective and dangerous being that wild, explosive puncher. Although it’s not going to work at the top level because they’re all going to outbox him.”
“Liam Smith to win on points.”
The Baggies Bomber
Still only 33-years-old, Tommy Langford is toying with the idea of making a comeback 32 months after his last fight against Lerrone Richards.
Back in Barnstaple with his family, the place where he grew up, Tommy is working as an electrician and is married with two children, expecting a third soon.
He commented on his plans for 2023, “It’s gonna be hard, I’m not stupid, and I’ve got a lot of checkboxes to get to that point, so I’m quite sensible. I‘ve got to get fit first, then start sparring, and if I still feel like I’m doing what I should be able to then I’ll go for it. There’s a lot of hoops to jump through, but I’d like to give it one last stab if I can, and who knows, I could get back, get a win, and get another big fight, but just see how it goes.
“I never really wanted to finish [boxing], but I need to lose weight and get fit anyway, so this is the goal to make myself do it. Super-middleweight will be the goal; realistically that’s the weight I’d want to get back to.”