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Cummings hammers out first title success and targets bigger prizes

By David Kelly

Conrad Cummings sparked his career into life last night when he lifted the vacant WBO European middleweight title at the Meadowbank Arena in Edinburgh.

The Coalisland man, coming off the first defeat of his career at the hands of Ronny Mittag, bullied Austrian Gogi Knezevic from the opening bell before stopping him at 2:10 of the third round.

Knezevic was down at the end of the first when Cummings landed a right hand just before the bell. Cummings continued to pursue his opponent with measured aggression, snapping out his jab and hooking to the body.

The Austrian had tried to get on his bike and counter Cummings but the Coalisland man cut off the ring and slammed home his hooks and repeated the medicine in the second round.

Knezevic decided to stand and trade and that suited Cummings even more, dominating the second round and then in the third unloading a spiteful left hand which turned the Austrian’s legs to jelly before he hit the canvas.

Referee Phil Edwards watched Knezevic rise to his feet and then quickly called a halt, leading Cummings to jump on to the ropes in celebration.

“This is the breakout fight for me, this is me sending a message to the rest of the division,” said Cummings, who trains alongside former World champion Carl Frampton with coach Shane McGuigan.

“This is a real turning point for me. I did what my corner asked me, I was relaxed and just let the punches go and I showed what I can do. I’ve seen what Carl has done, he’s gone all the way and I believe I can do it.”

Coach McGuigan was clearly delighted with the victory and now wants to see Cummings kick on having gained a top 15 ranking with the WBO on the back of last night’s win.

“I think in the past Conrad has felt a bit of pressure, coming into the pro ranks after being a top amateur and being around world class fighters in the gym but this is a learning sport and you have to enjoy that process and I could see that tonight he was much more relaxed,” said McGuigan.

“Maybe because he lost his last fight that just took the pressure of protecting an unbeaten record off him and has helped him to just focus on what he has to do.

“I’ve been waiting for a performance like this from Conrad. He’s now ranked in the WBO ratings and hopefully we’ll be knocking on the door very soon.”

One potential opponent down the line is Donegal’s Jason Quigley who picked up the North American middleweight title in the early hours of Friday morning with a points victory over Glen Tapia in California.

The Donegal man, now unbeaten in 13 fights, took the fight on all three judges’ cards — 100-90, 99-91 and 98-92.

Quigley said: “This is a stepping stone to many more belts that are coming my way.”

In the main event in Edinburgh last night, rising Scottish star Josh Taylor retained his Commonwealth super-lightweight title with a sixth round stoppage of South African Warren Joubert.

Taylor suffered a bad cut after a clash of heads in the first round but then proceeded to dominate the contest with his heavy shots.

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