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Conrad Cummings has to show he's up for best of British: McGuigan

By David Kelly

Conrad Cummings has had a slow burning career so far but now manager Barry McGuigan says "the kid gloves are off" as the Coalisland man counts down to his IBF inter-continental title fight this Friday night at the SSE Arena in London.

Unbeaten in 11 fights, Cummings had hoped to kick on towards a British title shot this time last year but walked into a game Fredo Meli, the two Ulstermen fighting out a barnstorming draw at the Waterfront Hall.

Cummings admits he was left bitterly disappointed by his performance but now has the opportunity to catch the eye with victory over Germany's Ronny Mittag who comes with a record of 28 wins, two defeats and a draw.

Manager McGuigan is hoping that the 25-year-old Coalisland man announces himself as the next member of a group of British middleweights who could well serve up some entertaining bouts over the coming years - two of whom meet on Saturday week when Tommy Langford faces Sam Sheedy for the British title vacated by Chris Eubank jnr.

"This is a very big night for Conrad. We have a lot of belief in him and we believe that he's now ready to deliver a performance that we know he's capable of - one that will show people he deserves to be in the mix with the best in Britain," said McGuigan, whose son Shane coaches Cummings.

"The kid gloves are off now... Mittag is a strong guy and he will test Conrad and hopefully bring out the best in him.

"I genuinely would put him in with Tommy Langford right now or Jack Arnfield, the guy who beat John Ryder for the WBA international title. We want to push him on. We've spent a lot of time working with him, Shane has been developing him and he's ready to be taken off the leash.

"The British, Commonwealth or even European title is what we want for Conrad - there can't be any backward steps now that he is up to championship 12 round fights."

Cummings has certainly been in some fan-friendly scraps since turning pro with McGuigan two-and-a-half years ago, following up his brawl with Meli with an equally entertaining duel with American Dante Moore in Brooklyn on the undercard of Carl Frampton's World title victory over Leo Santa Cruz.

"American television loved Conrad's fight with Moore and they are keen to have him back in the States at some point but in this fight with Mittag we are looking to see a more polished performance," he said.

"I want to see him more compact in his work, more fluid and letting the power flow - not loading up. I know that kind of performance is in there because we have seen it in the gym.

"We have seen him in the past work very well with Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders, two world class middleweights, so we know what he can do.

"Now he's on live TV with a chance to make a breakthrough and I believe it's a chance he will take. I want Conrad to show his potential for his own sake, to win and win well. He's such a dedicated lad he deserves to do well."

Meanwhile, Katie Taylor will face Karina Kopinska on her pro debut at the same Wembley venue on November 26.

The 27-year-old Pole will be having her 25th pro bout and should be a good test for Taylor as Kopinska has been the distance with WBC super-featherweight champion Eva Wahlstrom.

She is also set to be out again on December 10 in Manchester.

Belfast Telegraph


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