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“I’m a man now” – Battle-hardened Conrad Cummings ready for Belfast return

The last time Conrad Cummings [11(5)-1(0)-1] fought in Ireland he went, as trainer Shane McGuigan calls it, ‘Full Swamp.’

The Coalisland middleweight, then an ansty 24 year old, took on Belfast’s Alfredo Meli for the BBBoC Celtic title at the Waterfront Hall back in November 2014.

The bull-strong Cummings knocked Meli down in the first round before he had, what he can reflect on now, a bit of a mental meltdown, loading up, not listening to his corner, and allowing his opponent back into a fight which ended up a draw.

Cummings would rebuild before being knocked back down again, losing a controversial decision to Ronny Mittag for the IBF Inter-Continental title, a defeat he took very hard – as was seen in the recentĀ Fight Game documentary on BBC.

He has however come out the other side a stronger fighter, and makes his return to Belfast on the Frampton-Gutierrez undercard this Saturday with the WBO European belt draped proudly upon his shoulder.

It’s a much better shoulder accessory for the broad Tyrone fighter than the intense pressure he once felt.

A break-out win against Austrian Gogi Knezevic to grabĀ the belt back in March allowed Cummings to finally show his true talents in a pro ring and it has made all the difference.

Mr Dynamite explained to Irish-Boxing.com how “me, as a person, I put the weight of the world on my shoulders. Only myself, nobody else, and that’s maybe shown in some of my performance but that [pressure] is off now.”

“As you saw last time I showed my true worth. I was a world class amateur and I’m proving I’m a world class professional.”

“The shackles were off [v Knezevic]. That’s what I’m doing in the gym day in, day out, against world class opposition so it’s about doing it now on the big stage.”

It was a coming of age performance for Cummings who notes that, now, “the shackles are off, no pressure, I’m walking in singing. That’s not overconfidence, it’s just I know that I’m a man now.”

While he may have a tendency to overthink, the Ulsterman doesn’t view his fight on Saturday night as a ‘banish the Belfast demons’ affair

“I’m not a superstitious guy,” he notes. “Everything in my career happened for a reason, good reasons. I’m a very experienced professional for this early stage my career. That will stand me in good stead, and you will see that on Saturday”

“I love it. People think because of things in the past, earlier in my career, that ‘oh he doesn’t like the big stage’ – I love the big stage.”

“I let the pressure get to me [v Meli], but that’s a different thing, I love the big stage. I’ve got a lot of people coming down, the whole of Coalisland, the whole of Tyrone coming down.”

“It’s going to be a good night, I’m looking forward to getting in there and getting the job done. I’m going to really enjoy it and you’re going to see that on Saturday.”

His opponent on Saturday is Poland’s Robert Swierzbinski [18(3)-6(4)-2], an opponent that has previously shared the ring with some big names and may prove to be a bit of a measuring stick.

Cummings analysed how “he seems to lose to world level: [Chris] Eubank, Hassan N’Dam, David Lemieux, these guys are all world champions. I feel it’s the right fight at the right time. He’s going to come to fight, expect an all-action”

“Of course [it’s an opportunity to compare]. Eubank did eight rounds against him, I don’t like drawing comparisons as different styles make different fights, but of course that [comparison] does happen.”

“I’m just focusing on beating this guy, this will probably put me top ten in the world with the WBO.”

His WBO European title win gave him the #14 spot in the organisation’s rankings, and he has since moved up to #13. Cumings fully intends to act on this platform and he will be an interested observer on September 16th when champion Billy Joe Saunders defends against Willie Monroe Jr.

Cummings had thrown his name into the hat when Saunders was initially in search of an opponent last month, with preliminary talks taking place, and he hopes to get a shot at the title in the near future.

The Cyclone fighter described how “I think Saunders beats him [Monroe], a sharper Saunders because he took his eye off the ball there a bit.”

“I hope Saunders beats him, because I want Saunders. That’s not personal, but he has got what I want, and that’s the world title.”

“I hope he wins and I wish him all the best and, if he wants to do it next, let’s get it on.”

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie