Friday, March 24, 2023  |



Avtandil Khurtsidze to face Tommy Langford for interim WBO title

Photo courtesy of Showtime

Avtandil Khurtsidze, who took step-aside money to allow Billy Joe Saunders to pursue a bigger fight, will face Tommy Langford for an interim WBO middleweight title on April 22 at the Leicester Arena in England, it was formally announced on Tuesday.

Khurtsidze (32-2-2, 21 knockouts) was the mandatory to face Saunders but will now take on Langford, who was the WBO’s No. 3-ranked middleweight. Saunders, the WBO champion, is free to chase a higher-profile fight, which is against unified titleholder Gennady Golovkin in his native Kazakhstan on June 10 if Golovkin retains his titles on March 18 against Danny Jacobs at Madison Square Garden, multiple sources have told of plans that are being made.

“I am looking forward to April 22 and beating Langford in front of all his fans,” Khurtsidze said in a prepared statement. “I know he’ll be looking to run from me all night and to steal a decision but I’m coming for the knockout. I am coming to crack bones that night.”

Khurtsidze, 37, hasn’t fought since he stopped Antoine Douglas in March of last year in the tenth round in an upset after taking the fight on short notice. Langford (18-0, 6 KOs) last fought in November, winning a split decision against Sam Sheedy. The 27-year-old seemed to recognize he will be the underdog against the more experienced and hard-charging Khurtsidze on April 22.

“This is massive for me,” Langford said in the release. “It’s a huge fight and a huge opportunity to propel my name to the top of the sport. This is a tough fight but it’s very winnable. I’ve got the style to beat him and if I perform to the best of my ability on the night I’ll become an interim world champion. He’s a little Mike Tyson in the way he fights. He tries to bully his opponents up close and is very relentless but he can be outboxed.”