Conrad Cummings ready for action in title rumble with Gogi Knezevic

Conrad Cummings hoped to get the chance to set the record straight against Ronny Mittag (left) but he is fully focussed on taking on Gogi Knezevic
Andy Watters

WEEKS spent in the gym training for a revenge mission that never took place have left Conrad Cummings primed and ready for his WBO European middleweight title rumble with Gogi Knezevic (31-6-1) on Friday night.

Cummings (10-1-1) was scheduled to face Ronnie Mittag in a reprisal of the IBF Inter-Continental middleweight scrap the German won controversially on points last November. However, the March 11 bill in Cardiff was pulled leaving the Tyrone middleweight high and dry until he was added to Friday's bill at the Meadowbank Sports Centre, Edinburgh headlined by Shane McGuigan's Gym stablemate Josh Taylor who takes on Warren Joubert for the Commonwealth super-lightweight title.

Cummings, AKA ‘Mr Dynamite', admits he was “gutted” that he didn't get the chance to set the record straight with Mittag.

“That Mittag fight getting called off was a real kick in the teeth,” he said.

“I didn't lose the first fight and he knows that, so it's just disappointing. I wanted to get in there and I was gutted because I was so focussed on him – it's my one defeat and I wanted to correct that, but it wasn't meant to be.”

Cyclone Promotions reacted quickly to the setback and added Cummings to an entertaining Edinburgh bill that also includes Belfast-based British super-featherweight challenger Ronnie Clarke.

“I'm just delighted that my team pulled the stops out and they got me another title,” he said.

“Knezevic has a win over Mittag so that's something and he beat him well over 10 rounds so I'm going to go in there and get a good win. He'll be wily, he'll be clever and he'll be trying to steal rounds and use his experience. But he's 37 years-of-age and he's fighting a 25-year-old.

“I've been in camp now for 12 weeks living like a monk working hard, sparring with George Groves so if I'm not ready there's something wrong. I am ready, I'm calm because I've done all the work and I'm just going to enjoy it.”

Victory on Friday night will mean Cummings finally gets his hands on a title belt after falling just short on two previous attempts. He fought out an entertaining draw with Alfredo Meli in November 2015 and Mittag got the decision late last year although many good judges had Cummings winning the fight.

“It could have been my third belt,” he said.

“Maybe it's a good thing, you never know. Maybe it has kept me grounded and made me all the more hungry for it.

“I think I have to make up for lost time. The Mittag fight was a robbery, I thought I won it and to be honest I thought I won the Meli fight as well – it was a bad performance but I still felt I nicked it.

“If I'd had the rub of the green this would have been my third belt but it doesn't matter, I'm just focussed on the present and performing well on Friday night. I know I can because I've been doing it in the gym day-in, day-out.”

He added: “I'm not looking past this fight, but I want this to be a big year.

“I want to get this belt and I'll be top 15 with the WBO and I'll be pushing on progressively.”

THE next fight for an emerging talent is always supposed to be a ‘step up in class' and there's no doubt that is the case for Jason Quigley on Thursday night.

The Donegal middleweight (12-0) takes on dangerous Glen Tapia (23-3) at the Fantasy Springs Casino, California for the vacant NABF Middleweight title and although ‘Jersey Boy' has been stopped in his last two outings, Quigley should certainly be in for a thorough examination of his skills.

Tapia's last fight was against hard-handed Canadian middleweight David Lemieux, who dismantled Curtis Stevens recently to win the WBO Inter-Continental and WBC Continental Americas middleweight titles, and one of the two other defeats on his card came against James Kirkland who went on to meet Saul ‘Canelo' Alvarez in 2015. So it's clear that while Tapia is just below elite level, how Quigley deals with him will say a lot about how far he can go in boxing.

“I'm training at 110 per cent,” said ‘El Animal' Quigley.

“I'm focused on March 23. I have a lot of fans from back home who are coming to the US to support me, and I am honestly so humbled by that.

“I hope that one day I can give back, and go home to Ireland to give my hometown fans a special treat.

“I never focus on what my opponent brings to the table - whether they're a good fighter, a bad fighter, whether they are talented or not - I am only focused on what I bring to the table that night. I only concentrate on myself, and the fights before me.

“I love my Mexican fans. In fact, my love of boxing comes from Mexican fighters, especially Marco Antonio Barrera.

“When I watched him fight for the first time, and saw him transform in the ring I was just hooked on the sport and I knew that I needed to become a boxer.

“My team and I have done our homework and we have put together a plan A, B, C and D so that come fight night we are prepared for any fighter we might face.

“Glen Tapia needs to be prepared for what Jason Quigley is bringing to the ring. I'm not going home empty-handed.”

GENNADY Golovkin said he feels “like an animal” as he looks ahead to his proposed super-fight with Saul ‘Canelo' Alvarez.

‘GGG' made the 18th defence of his middleweight titles with a unanimous decision over Daniel Jacobs, but he failed to stop his opponent for the first time since 2008.

The 34-year-old Kazakh (37-0) sent Jacobs to the canvas in round four on his way to a 115-112, 115-112, 114-113 victory on the judges' scorecards.

“Of course, I'm ready [to fight Canelo],” Golovkin said.

“I'm very hungry. I'm very mad and excited - I'm like an animal for this fight.”

Golovkin's promoter Tom Loeffler claimed the Kazakh and Mexican Alvarez (48-1-1) have “agreed on a lot of points” after plans for a unification bout against Britain's WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders failed to materialise.

According to CompuBox, Golovkin outpunched 30-year-old Jacobs in New York - 231 to 175 - but the American, who is the first cancer survivor to win a world title, believed he had won the contest.

“After the knockdown, I told him he would have to kill me [to knock me out],” Jacobs said.

“When I got up, I thought: ‘This is all he has? I got back up and I thought I won the fight.'”

BEING locked away in a training camp has Anthony Crolla better than ever ahead of his rematch with Jorge Linares.

‘Million Dollar' Crolla is after vengeance when he faces Linares for the WBA, WBC diamond and Ring Magazine lightweight titles at the Manchester Arena on Saturday night in a bill that also features Katie Taylor.

Crolla's trainer Joe Gallagher insists his fighter had to be left alone by people in the build-up to the bout in order to get the best out of him on fight night.

“I feel at my best. I've not been running about here there and everywhere and I'm in a really good place,” Crolla said.

“I've been relaxing more and when I'm not training or at the odd Man United game, I've just been spending time with my family which is great.

“My training has been really smart and I've been doing a lot of yoga so I am more flexible than I've been before and I feel younger than ever.

“I really think I've improved a lot since the first fight but now I've got to make sure I show it on fight night.

“We wanted to make sure I was focused in the build-up and I've got a great set of mates that always look out for me.

“I've never been the type to do so, but if I ever had the temptation to go and have a night out too close for a fight then they wouldn't go with me.

“They've always got the best interest for me, and even when I've a bit bigger over the years they still don't treat me any differently. They just treat me worse and give me more stick!”

COACH Joe Gallagher says Gary Lockett would rather be in Liam Smith's corner if his showdown with undefeated British champion Liam Williams develops into a war.

Former WBO Super-welterweight champion Smith and Wales star Williams clash in one of the most eagerly anticipated domestic dust-ups in recent times at the Manchester Arena on Saturday, April 8.

Liverpool's Smith might have conceded his World title and unbeaten tag to Mexican megastar ‘Canelo' Alvarez in Texas last September, but his coach insists that ‘Beefy' is still frothing to re-assert his domestic dominance at 154lb.

“Gary was a good fighter as an amateur and a good fighter as a pro," said Gallagher. “He's a great young coach and is hungry for success. He is willing to learn and wanting to learn. I don't see it as a rivalry between us.

“If they think they are going to be able to beat Liam Smith and become a Canelo Alvarez overnight - that isn't going to happen. If they think Liam Smith is damaged goods and is unmotivated after a big pay day - they couldn't be more wrong.

“We've got two fighters. I'm sure he's very confident in Liam Williams - I'm very confident in Liam Smith. But I know deep down if we're going into a war, Lockett would rather be in Smith's corner than Williams'.”

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