Collins bullish on Buglioni chances
When Boxing Monthly chatted to Steve Collins it hadn’t been long since the former two-weight world champion had finished some promotional work with ‘the one that got away’ Roy Jones Jr.
No, the pair of 1990s boxing icons had not finally reached a deal to fight after two decades of ifs buts and maybes. “Listen if a promoter puts the money on the table me and Roy Jones Jr will fight," said the former WBO middleweight and super-middleweight champion. The fire still burns for Collins.
Instead, this was some of the necessary PR work to promote this Saturday’s WBA ‘regular’ super-middleweight title contest at London’s Wembley Arena between champion Fedor Chudinov and Collins’ fighter Frank Buglioni.
An intriguing little sub-plot I’m sure you’ll agree.
“It’s an interesting one for us because it’ll be the first world champion that [Buglioni’s head trainer and Steve’s brother] Pascal [Collins] will have,” Collins told BM. “It’s the same weight division I fought and there’s a buzz because you’ve got Roy Jones in the opposite corner. I never shared a ring with him physically but technically our input against his input -it’ll be nice to see how that works out.
“We feel it’s a big disadvantage for them having Roy Jones Jr in their corner. He is going to try and teach Chudinov things he hasn’t been taught before and it’ll upset his plan even more,” added the challenger’s assistant trainer.
But it will be the simplistic nature of sport, not an unsettled long-time rivalry, that will decide the outcome of this fight. One man against another. A 1/5 betting favourite in Chudinov against a 7/2 underdog in Buglioni. The task is seismic for the Brit but it is not boxing’s equivalent of Mount Everest.
Since the 26-year-old Buglioni shifted camp from the comforts of London and the Mark Tibbs camp to the Irish surroundings of Pascal Collins, Steve says there hasn’t been a great deal to tinker with because they had already took on something special in their eyes.
“We inherited a world class fighter from Mark Tibbs who came with that knowledge and what we’ve done is added to that,” said Collins. “Every day I talk to Frank and tell him something new. He talks to us and listens to us and learns something new every day and that’s how it works. Just keep adding and adding and pass on our knowledge and he takes in what works for him and puts it in his arsenal.”
The Londoner’s arsenal will need to be in seek and destroy mode with resolute defensive shields when he squares off against the impressive Chudinov. The 28-year-old Russian found a rhythm and a pattern of shots which wore down the challenge of Felix Sturm when the pair met for the vacant title back in May.
“He’s very tough, very durable,” said Collins of the champion. “A very experienced amateur, a good unbeaten pro career, a very dangerous guy and we respect everything about him but the bottom line is Frank Buglioni is a very, very talented fighter and has got so many strings to his bow there’s nothing he can’t do in the ring.
“Frank Buglioni can come forward and fight or can outdo an opponent like Floyd Mayweather, that’s the talent he has. He’s got a great variety. We think he’s got too much for this guy and a lot of people don’t realise that Frank Buglioni is a very tough guy who has a great chin and knockout power.”
Like his heyday in the 1990s, mixing it with some of America’s finest as well as his memorable rivalries with Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn, Collins believes that we will see more middleweights stepping up and mixing it at 168lbs.
Ireland already has one world middleweight champion in Andy Lee and contenders such as Matthew Macklin, Spike O’Sullivan and Eamonn O’Kane. Whilst in the UK the conveyor belt continues to roll one division above with James DeGale, Callum Smith, Rocky Fielding, George Groves and former middleweight title challenger Martin Murray.
“We’ve got a great super-middleweight division in Britain, a great middleweight division in Ireland and guys are going to transfer over from Ireland to super-middleweight like I did,” Collins told BM. “I can see that happening. In the whole game, there’s excitement and great fights ahead of us in the next couple of years.”
And after working for BoxNation on the night the channel covered George Groves’ third unsuccessful world title attempt, Collins, who also suffered three championship defeats (two world, one European) before world glory, had this message for the heartbroken Brit.
“I think George fought a great fight. I thought his trainer done a great job. I thought he was robbed,” said Collins. “I think he should let the dust settle, calm down and assess the whole thing when things are cooler.”