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AND THE NEW ... WBO European champion is...

Coaches and young prospects from Gilford ABC in county Down took part in an open-air boxing exhibition at the People's Park in Portadown last Saturday.
Andy Watters

THEY were the three words he’d waited his entire career to hear: ‘AND THE NEW…..’

When they came on Friday night they meant the world to Conrad Cummings because it meant he was the WBO European middleweight champion after his demolition job on Gogi Knezevic in Edinburgh.

Cummings (now 11-1-1) had come close in two previous title challenges and he was in no mood to let a third belt slip from his grasp. A piledriver of a left hook from the Tyrone man dropped the Austrian and although Knezevic made it back to his feet he was in no position to continue.

The win marks the end of the beginning for ‘Dynamite’ who will hope to drive on in his career after securing his first title.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Cummings yesterday.

“There’s been a few bumps in the road but it made everything even more worthwhile. The way I performed on the night, everything went well and I’ve got the belt back in Coalisland now.

“After the fight I couldn’t believe the positivity and the support I was getting. There were so many positive people who were delighted for me – my whole team and my family… Everybody was delighted and it couldn’t have gone any better for me on the night.”

Cummings had hurt Knezevic with a right uppercut early on and he threw another as a decoy to disguise the thunderous left hook that sent his opponent down and almost out.

“I’d been working on it,” he explained.

“I was being very clever and I wasn’t showing anything. I was jabbing away and cutting the ring off. It was a massive improvement.

“I hit him with a right uppercut and hurt him and then I touched him with another because I was looking for the left hook.”

The win means Cummings now has a top 15 ranking with the WBO and is only two wins away from forcing his way into the top 10 and putting himself in the frame to realise his dream of winning a world title.

“The camp took a lot out of me with all the training, but the fight itself didn’t take too much,” he said.

“I’ll see what the team says. Carl (Frampton) will fight at home in the summer and it would be a dream to defend my belt on that and maybe I’ll be out before that. I don’t know – if you don’t fight, you don’t get paid so I’d fight next week if I could.”


And the new... WBO European middleweight champion Conrad Cummings


ANTHONY Crolla is planning to take a break after a tough couple of years in and out of the ring but would be happy to move up a division to face Ricky Burns on his return.

Crolla was unable to regain the WBA lightweight title he lost to Jorge Linares at the Manchester Arena six months ago after being outclassed in their rematch at the same venue.

It was the Mancunian's fifth successive world title fight, though, the first of which came months after he was left with a fractured skull and a broken ankle after confronting burglars in December 2014.

That result against Darleys Perez ended in a controversial draw, but Crolla prevailed in a return bout and defended the belt against big-punching Ismael Barroso before his twin losses to Linares.

Despite those setbacks, the 30-year-old could next move up to light-welterweight to take on WBA titlist Burns. And while he would relish the prospect of an all-British showdown, his immediate priority is resting his body and mind.

“I'm going to have a little break with my family now," the 30-year-old said. "I think I've had a pretty tough two years fight-wise and all the stuff that comes with it.

“I believe there will be plenty of options and plenty of fights out there for us and I still want to be involved in those big fights.

“Physically I feel strong. Light-welterweight - with the notice - I'd certainly go into it that's for sure. Burns has come up from super-feather so that's certainly an option. I would grow into it.

“I'm 30 years old but I don't think I'm an old 30. Even though I've been in the hard fights, I live well and that certainly helps.”

JOSH Taylor believes he issued a "good statement" of intent with an impressive first defence of his Commonwealth super-lightweight title against Warren Joubert on Friday night.

The Shane McGuigan-trained 26-year-old from suffered a cut above the eye against the experienced South African early in the first round but took it in his stride at Edinburgh's Meadowbank Sports Centre.

The one-sided contest was ended after one minute and 27 seconds of the sixth round by referee Victor Loughlin after the 35-year-old challenger struggled after getting up from a vicious left hook which put him on the canvas.

The exciting Scot, managed by Barry McGuigan, extended his professional record to 9-0 with eight finishing inside the distance, and he was pleased to take another step up the boxing ladder.

“It is a good statement," he said.

“I hadn't seen much of him at all.

“I had only seen a couple of rounds of him fighting against another guy in South Africa.

“So I never really had a game plan other than to go out and have a look at him and make sure I was boxing how I like to box; nice and quick and hitting him with the jab and then building on it and that's what I did.

“I just took my time and eventually started to get my rhythm and started to catch him as he came in and the last shot was a peach.

“It was the first time I have had a cut as a pro and I overcame that as well.

“He came in at me, I ducked down and he came up and clashed the heads. I seen the blood dripping straight away

“I didn't even ask how it was in the corner, I just left it. I seen it in the mirror and it was quite a bad one.

“But I felt nice and calm. I learned a lot about myself between rounds. I was nice and calm and it didn't faze me one bit.

“I know when it gets rough and tough it is not going to faze me, I can keep my cool.

“I am impressed with that performance.”


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