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Past heartache fuels desire to spark career into life

By David Kelly

Conrad Cummings says he has learned his lessons and is ready to take his career to a new level this Friday night in Edinburgh. The Coalisland middleweight meets Austrian Gogi Knezevic for the WBO European title on the supporting bill to his gym-mate Josh Taylor’s latest outing. A frustrating draw with Belfast man Fredo Meli in a Celtic title fight along with his recent controversial defeat to German Ronny Mittag has gnawed away at him.

A rematch with Mittag fell through but now he has the opportunity not to only grab his first belt but also a world ranking with the WBO.

“I feel like this should be the chance to put a third belt around my waist but it will be my first and I can’t wait to get in and do the business,” said Cummings.

“I’ve never been up for any fight before like I am for this one. I was so gutted, so down after losing to Mittag — I know I won that fight and didn’t get the decision.

“I took a couple of weeks off and then got back in training — I proved to myself how much I want this. I know I will get to where I want to be, it’s just taken longer than I hoped.

“I’ve learned from the fight with Meli when I put him down early and just went looking for the knockout and in the Mittag fight there were times when I didn’t let the shots go like I normally do.

“So there are no excuses, I’m ready to go.”

Cummings, who is coached by Shane McGuigan and managed by Barry McGuigan, has spent the past 12 weeks in camp and sparred around 100 rounds for a night that could go a long way to defining how his career develops.

Some of those spars have been with former World super-middleweight title challenger George Groves, which Cummings feels has been particularly beneficial.

“In my camp for the Mittag fight I had some days when I was as flat as a pancake but in this one every session has been great,” said Cummings.

“I got some work with George Groves and that was very good. He’s a weight above me and boxed at the highest level so it was tough but I was very happy with how it went.

“This is a huge opportunity for me, a win on Friday night would take me into the top 15 in the WBO rankings as well as winning my first belt.

“I couldn’t be in better shape.  I was actually doing two sessions a day out in Las Vegas when I went out to support Carl Frampton in his World title fight with Leo Santa Cruz.”

Cummings had been eagerly looking forward to putting the record straight against Mittag and was relieved when manager McGuigan came up with Knezevic in another title fight.

“Mittag was in my mind every day; when I was out running his face was in my mind because I really wanted to beat him so when I heard he had pulled out that was tough, I was on a bit of a downer,” he added.

“Then the whole show in Cardiff fell through but thankfully my team got me this title fight.

“This guy is more experienced than me and has a win over Mittag so I know that he’s going to be a real test for me.

“This is my chance to really move forward.”

The show is headed by Commonwealth super-lightweight champion Taylor, who defends his title against South African Warren Joubert in Edinburgh’s Meadowbank Arena.

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