By Steve Kim
Avtandil Khurtsidze (33-2-2, 22 KOs) captured the interim version of the WBO middleweight title this past weekend in England by stopping Tommy Langford in five rounds. After a slow start Khurtsidze uncorked a left hand that sent Langford down in the fifth, where the fight was then waved off by referee Phil Edwards.
His trainer, Andre Rozier, was pleased with the outcome, if not the overall performance.
"Let me start from the beginning, we went to England for the Langford fight. A lot of people kept telling him, 'Look, you've got to knock this guy out, you'll never get the decision.' So it was in Avtandil's head and that's basically what he was trying to do - to knock him out. He could have broke him up a bit more if he would've tried to get those combinations going but he had destruction on his mind.
"All he wanted to do was crush Tommy Langford and no matter who, what, why or when, he was thinking,'I have to knock this guy out because they wont give me a decision.'"
It turns out Khurtsidze had a point.
Rozier continued - "Sure enough come to find out that we were behind four rounds to nothing. It was like,'What?!?!' So I had to go apologize to him. I said - 'Well, I'm sorry 'Suicide', you were right. You had to do because they were definitely going to give us the business.'"
With the victory, they can now look ahead to July 8th where they are scheduled to face WBO titlist, Billy Joe Saunders. Rozier tells BoxingScene.com:
"We're going to get ready and we'll probably put together a camp at SNAC over in San Fran and do what we have to do to make sure he's prepared to keep pressure on Billy Joe, keep him off-balance and beat him down, literally."
After his bludgeoning of Antoine Douglas last March, Khurtsidze was on the sideline for more than a year. Now they get a relatively quick turn around, which pleases the trainer.
"I like it because we've been missing boxing for some time with long periods of inactivity where was not conducive to 'Suicide' improving his technical capability and you've got to remember he's 36 years old, he needs to work," stated Rozier, who also works with Daniel Jacobs.
"We don't need that much time under his belt. If he can stay on a very, very consistent course and stay busy. I think it will be a far more conducive to him being a better athlete in the ring."
Steve Kim is the news editor for BoxingScene.com.