WE all see the entrance. When a boxer marches to his fight, the crowd on either side, cheers merge with blaring music, and the bright lights illuminate the ring. Few stay to see them walk away, when a defeated fighter takes a lonely route back to his changing room.
It was a sensation Conrad Cummings never expected to experience when he fought Ronny Mittag at Wembley Arena last year, denied on a split decision on his own promoter’s show. “You don’t really ever think about it,” Conrad recalled. “You walk out with all the crowd cheering. Walking back, I don’t want to ever experience it again. Just it’s horrible. I think I would have felt not as bad if I felt I had genuinely lost the fight.
“I thought I lost three rounds if I was being harsh. I thought I won the fight convincingly. I didn’t get the decision and I won’t lie it felt like the end of the world to me. I was absolutely heartbroken. I felt I was cheated out of my first title.”
But he added, “All it did was make me more determined.”
In a peculiar way he now feels liberated. He bounced back to win a WBO European strap against Gogi Knezevic, a belt which he is set to defend against Robert Swierzbinski on Saturday in Belfast. “It’s made me the fighter I think I am now,” he said. “I’ve took the weight of the world off my shoulders. Sometimes you do carry the weight, for no real reason, sometimes I put myself under that pressure. I feel great. I feel in a good place. I’ve one loss which I didn’t lose. I’ve moved on.”
So far though Cummings feels he has not been boxing to his potential. “I boxed at the highest level as an amateur, won gold medals all over the world, Irish titles, I boxed in WSB with Mexico, I boxed World champions, I beat World champions as an amateur, an Olympic silver medallist,” he said. “I was putting that pressure on myself. I was just over-trying. That’s not a bad thing, I believe that’s a good thing. That’s going to stand me in good stead, the pressure’s off me.”
He is working his way towards a shot at Billy Joe Saunders WBO European title. “Saunders is a phenomenal champion. He’s beaten everyone put in front of him, Eubank included,” Cummings noted.”
“He’s got what I want,” Conrad added. “I feel it could happen soon.
“My dream has always been to become a world champion.”
And he warns, “I get there in the end. I always do. I’ve had a few bumps and bruises on the road. That makes the story more interesting. My story’s never been straightforward. But I’ll tell you as a fact, I always get there.”