Boxing’s world champion-in-waiting Tommy Langford talks A-Levels, the University of Birmingham and his gruelling big fight preparations
As a lad Tommy Langford was a handy footballer in his native Bideford, but realising he was a bit small for his age, he thought he’d give boxing a whirl to help him bulk up. As you can imagine his parents were none too keen and objected to their boy’s enthusiastic and what they deemed misguided idea. Undeterred, 11-year-old year Tommy sneaked out to the local boxing club and the rest is history as they say.
Recently crowned WBO Intercontinental champion, Tommy has his sights set on becoming world champion – and you’d be mad to bet against him. “As a kid I was into boxing straight away and as soon as I joined I was full-time almost,” he said. “I was at the gym every night. I won my first seven fights in three months and I was hooked.” Tommy carried on boxing throughout his teenage years with much success, but at 16 he had some life-changing choices to make. He could either stay in education or get a job and while he was keen to get into employment, his home town wasn’t exactly thriving. “I also knew I wanted to continue boxing, so I had to look at options that allowed me to do that and the best option seemed to be further education.”
This is where Tommy’s road to his now-home in Birmingham began. A chance sparring session with Brum’s Frankie Gavin changed him. Tommy explained: “I couldn’t hit him at all. I just couldn’t catch him and I wasn’t used to that.” Tommy quizzed Gavin about where he trained in Hall Green and a plan was hatched. Tommy set his sights on going to the University of Birmingham and worked his socks off to get the A-Level results he needed to achieve it. “The University of Birmingham was the closest uni to the gym, so that was the focus.” Tommy achieved the results, won a sports scholarship too and began a degree in sports science. At this point he had already competed for England and began believing he could reach the Olympic Games. He was taking wins over GB representatives, so his beliefs were realistic. “As an amateur, competing at the Olympics is the pinnacle and I thought it was just a matter of time, but my face didn’t fit and it never happened for me.”
Turning professional was the next step and he started fighting small hall shows around the UK, winning seven out of seven bouts before he caught the attention of boxing promoter Frank Warren’s ‘spotter’ who set up a meeting that led to the eventual deal. Tommy got a good few wins under his belt, quickly moving up the ranks and into the top 10 WBO fighters before he headed to his most recent fight in Dublin against Julio Cesar Avalos to be crowned WBO Inter Continental Middleweight Champion. Post-fight Tommy says he takes it easy, has a rest for a couple of weeks and spends time with his ‘massively supportive missus’ Leanne. He still works out and keeps an eye on his nutrition and says “it’s more a rest for the mind from the intensity of preparing for a fight.” Compared to his gruelling pre-fight regime it’s a piece of cake. Preparations begin eight weeks before a fight and include two boxing sessions per day including two and a half hours of sparring, bag work and skipping followed by running incorporating a long run and sprint work plus around 90 minutes of strength, all complemented by a highly structured nutrition programme.
Tommy’s hopeful his next fight will be against Billy Joe Saunders in Wolverhampton so he can enjoy the home advantage, although that wasn’t confirmed at the time of writing, but ultimately he’s working towards becoming world champion. “That’s the dream and I believe I can do that more and more.” Mum and dad are more supportive now although mum still can’t look. Tommy recalled: “Dad’s idea of boxing was what he remembered as a kid – no regulations or head guards, so I can understand why he was reluctant. He’s into it now though and comes to watch. Mum still finds it difficult. She’ll come to watch, but it’s not an enjoyable experience for her.”