Tommy Langford extended his unbeaten run to 13-0 and collected the vacant WBO Inter-Continental middleweight title in Dublin on American Independence Day.
The 25-year-old sharp-shooter from Birmingham stopped Mexican opponent, Julio Cesar Avalos in the fourth round at the National Stadium in Ireland’s capital city.
“It’s a great title to get and it’s my first one as well,” said the newly-crowned champ. “It puts me in the world rankings so it’s a great start and I’m really looking forward to the next one now.”
Originally from North Devon, Langford's maiden title fight was chief support to Jamie Conlan’s second successful WBO European super-flyweight title defence against Junior Granados on the co-promoted Frank Warren and MGM Promotions show titled ‘New Beginning’.
Langford, fighting out of his country for the first time, was roared on by over 60 travelling fans in the 2,000 capacity arena, half that had travelled from North Devon where he was raised and the others from Birmingham where he currently resides.
Also fighting outside of his native country for the first time, Avalos from Guadalajara had won 15 out of 19 fights with seven early stoppages going into the title contest.
Nicknamed ‘Vikingo’, he entered the fight off the back of an eight round points win over Carlos Torres and recently took unbeaten up-and-coming Mexican prospects Ivan Montero and Juan Ruiz the distance.
Equally matched in age and weight, the 6ft tall middleweight had the height and reach advantage and was able to keep Avalos at distance as he controlled the fight from the opening bell.
Although caught by a couple of right-hand clips in the first round, Langford always had his opponent backing up on the ropes and landed several of his own blows.
He remained patient in the second round before raising the pace in the third, pounding the 25-year-old Mexican with a series of heavy body shots as his raucous fans chanted his name.
Urged by his corner, consisting of trainer Tom Chaney and manager Jason McClory, to keep up the tempo, Langford was quickly on the offensive in the fourth, catching Avalos with a big left followed by a combination to the head.
Pinned on the ropes, Avalos seemed dazed after another head shot from Langford's left hand. The Mexican came back with a decent left hook but it was all he could manage and Langford sensed his chance. With his opponent’s back to the ropes, the Devoner-turned-Brummie unleashed a series of vicious head shots, the final blow being a malicious straight right that very nearly took the North American’s head clean off.
Referee, Steve Grey was keeping a close eye on the man from Guadalajara and stepped in just at the right moment with less than 20 seconds of the fourth round remaining.
“The plan was to be patient, to take my time to break him down, we knew from watching videos of him that he was slippery and awkward but I got straight in there because I found I could catch him quite clean straight away,” he commented.
The stunning victory means that Langford closes in on the top ten in the British rankings in what was his third stoppage in 11 months, and his first pro title also gains him a place in the WBO world rankings.
Despite two very polished performances so far in 2015, dismantling a tough opponent in Wayne Reed in February and picking up his first title in another blisteringly powerful demonstration, the 25-year-old remains humble and grounded.
“I’m not going to be calling out anybody or jumping in and chasing after anything too silly, I want to keep learning my craft, do more defenses and gradually increase the calibre of opponents and if other things come along the way then that’s brilliant but I’ve still got a lot to learn because I haven’t gone over six rounds yet.”
Langford concluded with a special thank you message to his vocal fan base, “I can’t thank my support enough, it’s unbelievable. They love a drink and a jolly, they’re fantastic and the fact that they’ve all flown over. I’ve got a few West Brom fans and I’m picking up more along the way and it makes you feel at home wherever you’re fighting.”
The headlining fight saw rising super-flyweight star, Jamie Conlan (14-0) survive a huge scare after hitting the deck twice, coming through a bitter war to beat Mexican challenger to his WBO European strap, Junior Granados (13-3-1) marginally on points in a fight of the year candidate.
The rest of the card featured former WBO European lightweight champ, Stephen Ormond (18-2) stopping Polish journeyman Jacek Wylezol (12-10) in the second round to get back to winning ways after being dethroned by Terry Flanagan in February this year.
Local lightweight and product of Matt Macklin’s MGM Gym, Declan Geraghty (8-1) earned his second career TKO with the third round stoppage of overmatched Latvian, Dinars Skripkins (2-3).
Belfast’ unbeaten bantamweight, Ryan Burnett (10-0) scored a second round stoppage of Hungarian, Csaba Kovacs (7-6).
Dublin’s local hero, Anthony Fitzgerald (18-7) and journeyman, Kieron Gray (8-41-1) went toe-to-toe throughout their scheduled eight round contest with Fitzy emerging as the points winner, referee David Irving scoring the action accurately at 77-75.