Boxing Preview – Tommy Langford v Jason Welborn

Titled ‘Battle of the Baggies’ due to both boxers – British middleweight champion Tommy Langford and challenger Jason Welborn – being ardent West Bromwich Albion FC fans, this local derby on May 4 is set to be an explosive clash.

Tensions are already running high in this grudge match with both Baggies arguing over who’s the better Albion follower during the press conference, aptly staged at the Hawthorns where the Premier League outfit play their home games.

Tividale’s Welborn, 31, wants the Baggies to back him in this British middleweight championship fight at the Walsall Town Hall for living just a stone’s throw away from the ground and having grown up in the area.

Langford, 28, originally hails from Bideford in Devon but has family in the Black Country, where his dad grew up, and relocated to Birmingham as a teenager to study for a university degree.

The real reason for the move was a different kind of education, however. After sparring Britain’s first ever world amateur champion, Frankie Gavin, the former England amateur captain made regular trips from his coastal home to Hall Green ABC to continue to spar with Frankie, eventually becoming stablemates for many years.

Choosing to study at Birmingham University was a convenience for Tommy to continue his learning with Frankie and his coach Tom Chaney. Gavin has since moved on, but Tommy is still a Hall Green student over 10 years later.

Having written a column in the club’s match day programme for the past three seasons, buying a season ticket every year since the age of five, it’s safe to say that Langford probably has the greater claim to be the bigger fan – the club’s fanbase renaming him the ‘Baggies Bomber’ simply closes the case!

The British champ at 160lbs has just the one loss on his ledger to Avtandil Khurtsidze (32-2-2). The ‘Mini Mike Tyson’, now incarcerated, has recently been accused of doping, so it’s fair to say that Langford was very likely cheated in that fight by the Georgian now facing RICO charges in America.

The challenger has six losses on his record, most notably to former world champion Liam Smith and world title contender Frankie Gavin. Both bouts were for the British belt, first at 147lbs against Gavin and, secondly, at 154lbs against Smith – both ended during the middle rounds courtesy of crippling body blows.

Twice a Midlands Area champion – welter and super-welterweight – and twice a failed British title challenger, it’s possible that’s a valid indicator of Welborn’s levels in boxing – is the British title just that too far a stretch in ability for the Tividale boxer? Well, coming into the fight off the back of a WBC International Silver middleweight title win against an unbeaten opponent who boasted 10 knockouts from 14 wins means that question is too tough to answer until fight night.

Joe Gallagher’s highly-touted prospect, Marcus Morrison (14-0), allowed Welborn to sit in his pocket and get his shots off, regularly trapped on the ropes by the underdog, whereas Langford won’t allow that to happen, as he is a skilled technician and will aim to keep his challenger at the end of his long reach.

Welborn is tough and will be desperate to make this third attempt at the Lonsdale belt count, knowing it could well be his last, so he will throw everything he has at this!

There will be early storms for Langford to weather, but, for me, the champion should still outbox him and get the better of any exchanges, and the high work rate he sets, the same work rate that mandatory opponent Jack Arnfield severely underestimate in their meeting last February, could eventually begin to wear Welborn down in the second stage of the scrap and a stoppage win could be on the cards any time past the midway point.

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