Buglioni: The best is yet to come
If boxing was as simple as some fans’ mathematical equations then it would be a very boring sport. A beat B, C sparred with B on numerous occasions, C beat D therefore D has no chance against A, right? Confused yet?
Fedor Chudinov (A), Felix Sturm (B), Sergey Khomitsky (C) and Frank Buglioni (D): four very different fighters that have many people predicting that D’s chances against A on 24 July are slim to none with slim just about to leave town. But, somewhere, the history of boxing is chuckling about such a prediction. The laughs of Turpin, Douglas, Rahman and many, many more can be heard as loud as the upsets they created, too.
Frank Buglioni (16-1-1, 12 KOs) defeating Fedor Chudinov (13-0, 10 KOs) for the WBA super-middleweight title might not register as high as those seismic shocks, but many have written off the Londoner before a punch has been thrown. Buglioni isn’t laughing, however, nor is he listening to them. But he understands their reasoning.
“What the public and the boxing world think doesn’t make a difference to me,” Buglioni, 26, told Boxing Monthly. “I think a lot of people look back at my only defeat against Khomitsky and they probably think Chudinov’s a better fighter than Khomitsky.
“They think it will be similar but since that year has passed I’ve doubled in my ability, no-one’s seen the best of me yet. I’m glad they’re writing me off. I’m sure the Chudinov camp have got too much experience to overlook me. That being said, they jumped at the fight. Obviously, they looked at my record and they probably know Khomitsky very well - and they’re probably looking to replicate the Khomitsky fight but they will come unstuck if they come in with that attitude.”
A few months after being stopped by Khomitsky, who might have difficulty getting into Britain again after what he did that night and more recently to Adam Etches, there was a change in the personnel of Team Buglioni. Out went trainer Mark Tibbs and in came Steve and Paschal Collins. Five fights, four wins and one draw since have the ‘Wise Guy’ feeling upbeat. But he knows his efforts and level have to be stepped up considerably to defeat the unbeaten Chudinov.
However, for the first time in his 18-fight career, Buglioni isn’t going in as the favourite. Something he is looking to use to his advantage. “This will be the first fight where I’m going in just to win,” said Buglioni. “Every other fight I’ve put pressure on myself to perform or go out and do a demolition job and stop them. It’s not about anything else other than getting that world title and coming away as world champion.
“The pressure is off me. All the pressure’s on Chudinov. He’s got the belt, he has to defend it. He’s out of his comfort zone in my hometown. I’m going to go out there with the tactics we’re working on day in, day out and I will stick to the plan.”
With such a loyal and significant fan base, who will make the atmosphere something of a cauldron at Wembley Arena, will the hometown fighter be able to control his emotions and fight with his head rather than his heart?
“I think my support is really going to help. It’s my hometown, everyone will be rooting for me but I will focus on my game plan and let the crowd spur me on,” said Buglioni.
Before jumping at the unexpected opportunity to fight the 27-year-old Russian, everything was in place for Buglioni to enter the trenches once more with old amateur rival Lee Markham. In May, the pair put on a domestic ‘fight of the year’ contender, going toe-to-toe, exchanging leather for 10 rounds and, despite the grudge match headlines, earning one another’s respect.
“As soon as [promoter] Frank [Warren] mentioned it [the Chudinov fight], I jumped at the chance and took the fight there and then,” said Buglioni. “The Markham fight was there which we agreed to but as soon as they offered us Chudinov, as soon as they said ‘world title’ that was it. I’ve got to take the world title. That’s what I’m in boxing for, to be a world champion, and the opportunity’s there.”
Reflecting on his performance against Markham, he said: “I could have boxed better. I thought I did more than enough to win the fight, but I’ve got a lot of respect for Lee Markham. It’s a sporting rivalry [between us]. To be honest, it started off as a little bit of needle but you can’t have anything but respect for a guy after a fight like that where we went toe-to-toe. He showed great toughness and respect afterwards and I did exactly the same because that’s what he deserved. I thought he boxed out of his skin that night. I think that was him at his absolute best so fair play to him.”
Buglioni-Markham 2 will probably happen somewhere down the line but that’s for another time. For now, all attention is firmly focused on Chudinov. And the first time world-title challenger has already paid close attention to the Russian’s win over German boxing legend Felix Sturm to capture the WBA strap recently stripped from Carl Froch.
“I’ve watched it five or six times now and I will continue watching that and just keep finding more and more weaknesses to exploit,” said Buglioni. “I thought Felix Sturm played into his hands. Chudinov did a good job to go in and win the title in Sturm’s backyard. It obviously shows he’s mentally tough and he takes shots, he’s got a very good chin. But he’s a little bit one-paced and there’s definitely ways to beat him.
“I know he’s a very good, strong fighter, unbeaten and now obviously a world champion so it speaks for itself. He’s got my respect and I’ll be training to the best of my ability. Fighting for a world title will be extra motivation to say the least,” continued Buglioni. “I expect my game and my performance to step up.”
A plan is already being put into practice between London and Dublin thanks to the vast experience of both Steve and Paschal Collins. Both no strangers to a boxing upset. “Paschal was in the corner for world title fights,” said Buglioni. “He masterminded the gameplan to beat Mike Tyson with Kevin McBride. I’ve got a very good team in the camp with me. I think it’s going to pay dividends on the night. The right team behind you makes all the difference.
“Every single camp just gets better and better,” continued Buglioni. “I learn more and more each time and it’s getting tougher and I’m unbeaten with it. Every camp that goes by I just feel more and more confident in my ability. I’ve got Steve Collins and Paschal Collins who are both very confident in my ability which is very reassuring. I know I’ll cause the upset so I’m looking forward to it. I’m not in there to prove anything. I’m there to win a title.”
The infancy of Buglioni’s professional career saw many an opponent succumbing to his punch power and volume. Those assets remain though the Londoner reminded BM that he isn’t facing Chudinov looking for the KO and he won’t make predictions, but…
“I think if I can hit him with the right shots I’ll hurt him but whether or not I hurt him enough to stop him remains to be seen,” he said. “He’s a very tough, strong guy but I’m not in there to knock him out. I’m in there to beat him and I will hit him more times than he hits me, that’s for sure. On 24 July, I will be going in there like a machine.”