Too early? Maybe.
Big underdog? Certainly.
Tyrone middleweight Conrad Cummings [11(5)-1(0)-1] believes that it his time, and he is ready to take his opportunity with both gloves following a frankly bizarre week for the division.
The WBO middleweight title fight between champion Billy Joe Saunders and Interim titlist/mandatory challenger Avtandil Khurtsidze, set for July 8th, was shelved on Thursday after it emerged that the Georgian was arrested in New York on charges of racketeering.
With Cummings already in camp and ranked #13 with the WBO by virtue of his WBO European title, he seems in many ways to be perfect stand-in opponent for Saunders, who has seen the last few years of his career plagued by inactivity.
It all seemed to fit together for the Coalisland boxer who recalled to Irish-Boxing.com how “as soon as I heard the Georgian was out, I felt almost like this was destiny, get me in.”
“Shane [McGuigan] was taking me on the pads, and Carl [Frampton] shouts to us, ‘that Georgian is arrested who was due to fight Saunders.'”
“I replied immediately ‘Get me in, I’m ready, it’s time!'”
“I had been sparring with [George] Groves, helping him get ready for his World title fight and training for my first defence of my WBO European title, so I’m in shape.”
It’s not merely a publicity stunt from Cummings, who revealed that tentative talks between his team at Cyclone and Saunders’s handlers at Queensberry and MTK have taken place.
Cummings outlined how “there has been a few words here and there, both positive from both sides. I believe the fight can be made, if not immediately, soon. Billy Joe is up for it and I am one million percent up for it, so why not?”
“I’m not sure if the fight can even happen next because Billy Joe has to fight his mandatory, but obviously the Georgian was his mandatory so it’s unclear what he is allowed or has to do next.”
“However I’m ranked with the WBO, so it’s definitely a possibility, soon!”
Ryan Burnett won a world title in just his 17th fight at the weekend, and Cummings going for a belt in his 14th would raise even more eyebrows.
Rather than waiting for the perfect moment though, Cummings wants to take a moment and make it perfect. The Ulsterman reasoned how “the fight has potentially could come earlier than I expected but that is life, things don’t always go to plan for the bad and good, and opportunities can come when you least expect it.”
“Huge opportunities like this don’t always come around but when they do you have to go for them one hundred percent!”
“I’ve had over 200 amateur fights, five in the WSB and 13 now as a professional, as I said to Billy Joe, ‘if you are stuck for a dancing partner, lets tango!'”
“I would be a massive underdog yes, but that’s when I’m at my best.”
Should the fight get made, it wont be the first time that Cummings has sharing the ring with the Beijing Olympian. The Irishman has sparred Saunders in the past, with manager Barry McGuigan relaying some glowing reports
Cummings, who won huge acclaim for his raw starring role in ‘Fight Game: The McGuigans,’ also draws confidence from these sessions.
The 26 year old noted that “I don’t like spreading sparring stories, I believe what’s happens in the gym should stay in the gym! We all have good days and bad.”
“Billy Joe has beaten all his previous opponents, with some big names in there, I have a lot of respect for him as a fighter. However, what I did take from the spar is that I one hundred and ten percent have the tools to beat Billy Joe!”
LISTEN: Gavan Casey and Joe O’Neill speak to Luke Keeler and Paddy Barnes on Episode 6 of The Irish Boxing Show: