Frank Buglioni returned to the ring after a 6 month hiatus on the back of his points defeat for the Super Middleweight World Title.
His return came in the his newly chosn weight category of Light Heavyweight; 175lbs 12st7 or 79.4kg for the metric among you.
He had teamed up with well respected trainer Don Charles only 4 weeks prior to his ring return, but confident in his new team and training base (Punch London, Mill Hill) Buglioni demonstrated his confidence in new team and division with a destructive 90 second demolition of awkward journeyman Olegs Fedotovs.
Buglioni chased Fedotovs onto the back foot, pushing the pressure with solid one, twos and crisp left hook counters when Fedotovs opted to fight fire with fire. Fedotovs walked onto a serious of vicious hooks and uppercuts before being pummelled to the ropes and subsequently rescued by the referee.
Buglioni was awarded his 14th KO & 18th Win from 21 fights.
I have a vested interest in the boxer Frank Buglioni. Firstly, in 2014 he was the first boxer whom I interviewed in nigh on twenty years; secondly, I’m not being sycophantic when I say that Frank is without doubt one of the nicest, most modest people you could meet in any walk of life; and thirdly, I’m proud – I hope – to call him a friend.
On Saturday night Frank won the British light-heavyweight title with a dramatic last round stoppage of Hosea Burton. Frank had been behind on all the judges’ scorecards before he snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. It is was the kind of fight and the sort of performance that will be remembered for a long time.
As a tribute to this career-defining moment, I’m reprinting Chapter 22 of my latest book ‘Dangerous’ in which Frank, having just been comprehensively beaten in a WBA super-middleweight title challenge to a Russian boxer named Fedor Chudinov, sits down and watches the fight with me in its grim entirety. It is a testament to Frank’s bravery both inside and outside the ropes that he consented to do this. Not many fighters – or, for that matter people who are not fighters – would be willing to rake over the coals of one of the most disappointing moments in their life in such detail.
Congratulations Frank. You really deserve success. The hard road that you have taken has, I’m sure, made this achievement all the more satisfying for you.
Boxers are adept at deception. It’s something they do better than an awful lot of politicians. And one of their myriad acts of subterfuge is that they would have us believe they are normal creatures, that they do normal deeds and behave in ordinary ways. When you meet them face to face their physical appearance may strike you as unremarkable.
But that’s just another deception. Because it doesn’t take me long to realise that there is nothing normal about the person sitting at my kitchen table right now. It isn’t anything to do with the conspicuous lack of extra poundage on his long, too lean frame. Nor is it the glowing skin: firm and freshly scrubbed and ridiculously absent of wrinkles of any description. And it’s not the way he talks or moves or smiles or frowns or grimaces or coughs.
It’s nothing at all that you can put your finger on. This courteous, quietly spoken manboy is just different. There’s no other way of describing it. Different.
Sofia has now been out of that hospital for more than three weeks. As soon as she spots the back of boxer Frank Buglioni’s head she scampers off to hide in her room. Frank, you may remember, was at the gym earlier this year when I met with Steve Collins. Since then we’ve exchanged a few messages and the young fighter has very kindly sent words of support for Sofia. She doesn’t know that, of course. She’s just a thirteen-year-old girl and as far as she’s concerned a very good looking stranger has just walked into our house; he mustn’t be allowed to see her blushes.
A little while ago Frank asked a favour of me. He told me he was having his website redesigned and asked if I would mind writing a piece about his last fight: his WBA world championship loss to a Russian named Fedor Chudinov in September 2015. I told Frank it would be an honour. However, if we were going to do this it had to be different to the standard “So-and-so threw a left hook… Whatsisname threw a jab…” sort of fight report.
For this reason our plan is to watch the Chudinov fight together and talk about what might have been in possible excruciating detail. I’ve never done this with a boxer before and I can’t say I’ve heard of anybody else doing it. I believe it’s a particularly brave thing for Frank to agree to. After all, not many would want to rake over the coals of what must be one of the undoubted low points of their life. It would be the equivalent of you or I being forced to relive the minutiae of a particularly cringeworthy date in which you loudly belched as you reached over for that first tender kiss. Or an embarrassing job interview that you undertook not knowing that you had a piece of cabbage wedged between your teeth. I understand, of course, that such comparisons are a trifle egregious – for since when was a boxer ever anything but brave?
Thankfully the Frank Buglioni who takes a seat next to me today is nothing like the figure of the latter rounds of the Chudinov fight that will remain eternally searchable on YouTube. Remorseless pressure and relentless punching from the Russian WBA belt holder had reduced that Frank Buglioni to an exhausted caricature of himself. The person sitting beside me is, however, unmarked by his ordeal. A sickeningly fresh-faced picture of youthful vitality that makes me feel like punching him myself right now.
A little small talk: Frank tells me more details about his split with promoter Frank Warren. As before I find it difficult to hide my concern. Then Frank drops the bombshell that he has also parted company with Steve Collins and my worries are instantly amplified tenfold. Being a boxer in the digital era is rather like being a contestant on the X-Factor: unless you get that number one hit in double-quick time you’re pretty soon humped and dumped. Only five months earlier Frank had been fighting for the WBA world super-middleweight title – the very pinnacle of a prizefighter’s ambitions – and now his future, to put it mildly, seems uncertain. Or at least this is my initial impression.
But I’m wrong: Frank’s disarming honesty and common-sense approach convinces me so. With a nonchalance that belies his tender years Frank explains that these decisions were his, and that he made them purely in the name of good business practice. ‘I was prepared to work with Frank Warren again,’ Frank tells me. ‘But I thought let’s see what else is out there. I don’t want to do anything behind anybody’s back. I want to do things properly…’
I’ve heard boxers attempt to deal with disappointment before. And I’ve been present when blatant untruths have been issued with an audacity that would put to shame any government dossier ever compiled on WMD. But Frank is earnestly and eminently believable: he’s had to stop working with Steve Collins purely for financial reasons and he’s keen to manage himself, which is a very bold step that few few boxers ever take. This means that he will have to personally barter with promoters for the best price he can get whenever he fights. He’s going to have to learn to fight outside the ring as well as in it
I click the YouTube ‘play’ button and tell Frank to prepare himself for some fairly dopey questions. The blocky image on my iPad reveals his Russian opponent Chudinov climbing through the ropes. Small. Clean limbed. Ape-like. Hairless torso. Muscled. A good head shorter than Frank. Watching the Russian immediately brings to mind an issue that is perennially debated on social media.
I halt the playback and ask Frank whether he genuinely considers the title he fought for to be a true ‘world’ title. It’s an awkward question and his answer is not entirely unexpected: ‘It’s 100 per cent a world title,’ he says firmly, as if used to and bored of answering this question. ‘The WBA, the IBF, the WBC, WBO – if you’re a world champion of any of them you’re a world champion. People on social media don’t know how hard it is being a professional boxer and getting to that world title level.’
We restart the video and watch the figures onscreen warm-up in their respective corners. ‘What were you thinking about at that moment?’ I ask. ‘Were you thinking about your dad… About when you were a kid dreaming of being a world champion…?’
‘The fight was the only thing on my mind,’ he says. ‘I was just visualising myself lifting the belt. It was something that I’d been preparing for for the last year, and then very intensely for the last ten weeks.’
‘Did you have any doubts in your mind at all as to the result?’
‘No. None at all. Prior to the fight I was actually full of confidence. The way that I fought in the gym was better than ever before. I pushed it that extra level…’
Had he spoken to his opponent in press conferences leading up to the fight?
‘Not really,’ says Frank. ‘His English wasn’t great but we’d shaken hands when we first met. Obviously I didn’t shake his hand at the weigh-in because I was in the zone. People saw that as disrespectful and some had things to say about it but I’d like to challenge them to be in my situation. To prepare their mind and body the way I did and then shake someone’s hand you’re about to fight to the death…’
We stop talking for a moment and watch the introductions to the fight unfurl. The onscreen Frank looks pensive as he prowls the ring, the Russian unperturbed, all business.
‘I presume you had a fight plan?’ I ask as the action kicks off.
‘Yes, it was to box, move, draw him on to the shots, make him use his legs because in his last fight every time he used his legs he needed to take a breather. Obviously it didn’t work the way we thought it would do…
‘It must be so hard when you’re doing everything you can but the other person is still beating you,’ I say. ‘Surely no amount of money can compensate you for this sort of punishment.’
‘You wouldn’t be fighting for a world championship unless you didn’t love boxing,’ replies Frank. And I think it’s hard to love a business the same way as you love a sport.’
As the sentence leaves his lips there is a cheer from the YouTube crowd. Frank has just enjoyed his first success of the fight: he connects with a couple of right hands but they scarcely make a dent in the perpetually advancing Chudinov. The Russian moves forward like an automaton, throwing punch after punch at the retreating Buglioni.
‘He had a great jab,’ says Frank. ‘And he’s thick set and strong. I wasn’t expecting the jab to be as good as it was. In fact, I’ve never come across anyone with a jab as good as his.’
‘How did that affect you?’ I ask. ‘If I’m hit by one punch it’s more than I can take. But he was throwing dozens and many of them were connecting…’
‘I would say after the seventh round I started to feel the pace,’ admits Frank. ‘It was getting tougher and tougher and he wasn’t tiring.’
So tough in fact that with no more than two minutes on the clock Frank is already running out of places in which to retreat. He rests his back on the ropes and attempts to use them to leverage his own punches.
‘Did you plan to do that?’ I ask, already knowing the answer.
‘Once my back was on the ropes the plan was to try to move away,’ says Frank. ‘But he was very good at cutting off the ring and reserving energy.’
I find myself wincing as Frank tries to fend off the first-round barrage. I tell him I don’t like to watch him fight. He ignores the comment.
‘Did you work on your jab?’ I say.
‘Yes. I’ve been using the jab.’
‘So why weren’t you using it here?’
‘I was trying to keep him at range and when he comes in, throw the flurry and move away again. But I shouldn’t have been away so quickly. I should have thrown a second phase of punches…’
I tell Frank that perhaps he should have stood his ground more. Although I’m all too aware that it’s easy for me to say.
‘If I fought him again I would hold my ground and go to war with him,’ he replies. ‘He’s so good coming forward I’d like to put him on the back foot and see what happens.’
As the round comes to a close Frank reveals to me that prior to the fight he had perforated an ear drum.
‘Jesus!’ I exclaim.
‘The other thing is that making super-middleweight was just taking a little too much out of me,’ he adds.
‘You really shouldn’t have been fighting at all,’ I say.
‘Yeah but world titles don’t come along too often. My dad wanted to pull me out but I said: “I don’t care if I’ve got two broken hands!” It was the biggest opportunity of my life…’
‘I suppose that in reality it’s rare for a boxer to ever be 100 per cent fit.’
‘Yeah… If you push yourself to the limit you’re inevitably going to have an injury or illness. It’s as simple as that.’
We watch as the second round carries on from where the previous left off: Chudinov stalking, Buglioni retreating. Chudinov metronomically launching punch after punch, Buglioni trying in vain to pick off his opponent. It’s painful viewing.
‘But this was the best I could have performed,’ insists Frank. ‘The actual best. That’s why I’m not disappointed by the result. He was the better man on the night.’
I ask the boxer about his opponent’s power. What did it feel like being continually hit by the champion’s punches?
‘They weren’t concussive but every one was solid,’ says Frank. ‘And he had very fast hands. But I’ve been working on crossing my arms on the inside so I didn’t take too many uppercuts. I was rolling with a lot of the punches. Even though he was winning most rounds I was having flashes of success. So I was still positive…’
‘But I just want you to stop and use your jab,’ I say. ‘I think it could be a phenomenal weapon…’
‘Yes, my jab’s good when it lands,’ agrees Frank. ‘It’s very solid…’
As we look on it suddenly becomes apparent that Chudinov appears to be slowing down for the first time.
‘He’s taking a breather,’ observes Frank, as he finally begins to force his way into the fight.
‘See… that’s nice,’ I say, pointing out a body shot that Frank delivers.
‘Yes I was having a little bit of success working to the body. I think he felt a few of my shots.’
‘How quickly does time go when you’re in the ring?’ I ask.
‘The minute break in the corner was going very quick,’ says Frank. ‘But the three minutes were definitely three minutes long.’
‘When you’re exhausted I expect it seems like six minutes?’
‘Yes, of course. When he catches you with a good body shot or in your face it seems longer…’
‘Now all of a sudden you’re planting your feet and throwing punches,’ I say.
‘Yes I’m going back to my instincts.’
‘And your instinct is to fight him, not to back away?’
Round four begins and Frank makes another confession: ‘I think it was about then that the other eardrum went…’ he reveals.
‘Oh no! What did that feel like?’
‘It’s like a ringing in your ear, a very, very bad headache. It didn’t really affect my balance.’
‘I take it you didn’t mention it in the post fight interviews?’
‘No. You can’t do that. But I had a lot of injuries in that fight. When I took the drug test afterwards my body wasn’t absorbing any water and I was vomiting from exhaustion. And the urine I passed was just blood.’
‘Do you ever wonder why you do it?’
‘The next day I was pretty sore when the adrenalin had worn off. But I thought it was a great night and a great experience. I loved every minute.’
‘Are you starting to feel the pace now?
‘Yes but I was having a little success and occasionally hurting him so it gave me the incentive to carry on.’
‘Had he hurt you yet?’
‘Only with the shot that burst the ear drum.’
‘What does your mother think of you fighting?’
‘She was actually there that night. She didn’t want to miss my world title shot. I think she took the defeat quite hard…’
‘It must be difficult to watch somebody hitting your child.’
‘I suppose so. The only thing that was going through my mind was: I need to beat this man and I can do it! I know that when I hit someone I can hurt them. And I tend to be quite a good finisher…’
‘His punches don’t look particularly hurtful, I say. ‘Although I’m obviously not the one taking them…’
‘Yes but it’s the cumulative effect. The gloves are important here. He wears Rival gloves and they’re very compact. And I usually wear Grant gloves which are a puncher’s glove and slightly bigger so that you can get more wrapping around your hands. Sometimes when a glove is too tight it can make your hand go numb.’
We watch as Chudinov continues to up the tempo. Frank is visibly tiring now. His face is marking up and more of his opponent’s punches are getting through Frank’s guard.
‘That’s looks painful,’ I say.
‘Not really. You take a shot and you deal with it. You try to have your chin down so you take them all on the forehead. If you take an uppercut to the nose you can feel that a little bit more. Body shots can hurt and sometimes you get a thumb in the eye.’
‘But he wasn’t dirty?’
‘No, not at all. Just businesslike. I’m kind of the same really. I just get on with the job. I don’t really enjoy gamesmanship…’
‘It seems like you’re suddenly getting a second wind…’
We look on as Frank finally gets his turn to land a few punches. Then, as the bell to end the round sounds, Frank suddenly connects with a booming right hand and the Russian hits the canvas hard. The crowd are screaming as the referee steps in to separate the fighters. A moment or two later he indicates to the ringside judges that two points are to be deducted from Frank’s score. The referee clearly believes that Frank landed his punch after the bell.
I rewind the YouTube video. Frank and I review the action meticulously. It’s arguable but fairly clear to me that Frank’s knockout punch landed exactly on the bell. The sound of bell could still be heard as the punch connected. Deducting two points from his score was extremely harsh, bordering on unfair.
‘Towards the end of this I landed a few shots and it spurred me on,’ says Frank. ‘It would have been nice if I’d landed 20 or 30 seconds before the bell. We might be sitting down having a different conversation right now…’
‘His recovery was superhuman…’ I say, as Chudinov springs to his feet, apparently fresh as a daisy.
‘He bounced back didn’t he?’ says Frank. ‘And I thought it was a bit unfair taking two points off me because it was on the bell. And it was only because I dropped him. It shouldn’t make a difference…’
‘I agree – it’s very, very harsh.’
‘So you know with two points gone it’s Goodnight Vienna,’ says Frank. ‘If the referee hadn’t have done that it would have been a 10-8 round to me. Instead it’s a 10-7 round to him – that’s a 5-point swing…’
Now it’s Frank’s turn to attack. With Chudinov still shaky on his feet Frank throws punch after punch at his opponent in an effort to end the fight.
‘You’re obviously tiring,’ I say. ‘But the adrenaline is keeping you going…’
‘Yeah. I’m thinking if I’m going to win it I better go out and do it now.’
‘And you’ve maybe only got about half a minute before the exhaustion takes over?’
‘Yeah. I was kind of winging the hooks in…’
‘It’s a terrible thing that this half a minute is so crucial to your entire career…’
And even as we speak Frank’s punches are becoming slower. His arms suddenly look as if they have lead weights tied to them. Conversely, Chudinov seems to finding a new lease of life. The pendulum has swung.
‘I put so much into that first 30 seconds to try and hurt him and tired myself out,’ explains Frank. ‘That’s when his shots start to really tell.’
‘At this point in the fight was there any strategy left at all?’
‘Yes, I was trying to fight in bursts but they weren’t frequent enough or long enough to have any telling effect. And Chudinov tended to win the rounds because he was consistently on me all the time. In order to win I had to put my level above his and I couldn’t do that.’
As the bell for round 8 sounds I leave the room for a few moments and Sofia conveniently appears from nowhere.
‘Hi you OK? Recovered now?’ I hear Frank ask. ‘What a terrible incident!’
I return and put my arms around her shoulders before introducing the pair.
‘She’s tall now,’ I say. ‘She going to be a big one.’
‘That’s probably what caused the illness,’ says Frank. ‘When you’ve had a growth spurt your immune system is weak. All your energy goes into growing.’
‘I didn’t think about that,’ I say.
‘A lot of young athletes get injuries and illnesses because they’re training all the time and it’s too much stress.’
‘That’s an interesting theory.’
‘When I was about 12 or 13 I had bouts of glandular fever every time I got taller. The specialist said that it was because I weak. But there’s a few things you can do to boost it: Carrot and ginger juices… Manuka honey… Echinacea… Garlic…’
I point Sofia’s head towards the iPad screen: ‘We’re watching Frank fight,’ I softly say. ‘Wanna see?’
‘Getting banged up,’ says Frank grimly.
‘Frank is fighting for the world title – can you believe that?’ I tell Sofia. ‘I don’t know if you like boxing, do you?’
‘I don’t know,’ Sofia dryly replies.
It’s more of the same for Frank now. Monotonously more of the same. The Russian’s piston-like punches never stopping. Frank retreating, attempting to connect but never quite managing it with any real authority. I feel guilty for putting Frank through this.
‘I remember at the end of the 9th coming back to the corner and Steve saying: ‘Only three more rounds!’ recalls Frank. ‘And I was thinking: “Three more rounds? It seems like a lifetime!”‘
‘He can’t win it on the cards now,’ says the commentator. ‘He’s got to knock him out!’
Round ten begins and the pattern of the preceding rounds continues. It’s barely worth mentioning what’s happening on screen right now so we talk about Frank’s training methods instead.
Frank asks me if I’ve ever heard of the Chimp Paradox and proceeds to give me a detailed explanation of the training model that he adheres to. In this model the brain is made up of three parts: The Computer, which governs automatic functions; The Chimp, which controls ego and emotions; and The Human, which concerns the logical functions of the brain.
‘When you’re training obviously you do things over and over again,’ says Frank. ‘These are Computer thoughts and actions. When you go into a fight you want to run off your Computer, your instinct, because it’s so much quicker. It’s something like ten, twenty times faster than human thought.
‘If someone throws a jab and you think to yourself: “Ok jab coming, catch it, block it, throw a counter!” then you’ve already been hit three or four times. But if you don’t even think about it and just react instinctively – that’s your Computer at work.’
‘That’s very interesting,’ I say. ‘Do you think all boxers do this?’
‘Yes. To get to the top level of any sport you need to rely more and more on your Computer. And to have a good functioning Computer you need to do the practise.’
‘But are other fighters consciously aware of this? Do they think about this like you do?’
‘Maybe not. They probably just do it automatically. When your Chimp kicks in you’ll be thinking: “I’m under pressure here! It’s getting too hard! Let’s quit! Let’s quit!” So it’s down to your Human to override it, to say “No, I’ve trained too hard for this!” And then your reason and logic will kick in…’
Frank tells me about how he visited a psychologist prior to the fight, about how he uses hypnosis and visualisation techniques.
‘Because of this I went into the trenches a hundred times before I fought Chudinov,’ he says. ‘In my head I’d already beaten him so many times. When I was in the ring this is what drove me on.’
‘Unfortunately I guess all of this must cost you money…’ I say.
‘Of course – it cost a small fortune,’ says Frank. ‘But what I learned leading up to this fight is an education for life. Everything I’ve learned about how to fight and deal with copious amounts of stress and pressure. After a fight like this everything else is a walk in their park…’
‘We’re having a trade off,’ says Frank to Sofia as the three of us grimly watch him continue to lose the fight. ‘And he seems to be getting the better of it…’
‘You’re really tired, aren’t you…’ I say.
‘Yes, I am but I’m still thinking about trying to land and hurt him.’
‘Did you think by this stage that you’d lost the fight?’
‘No. I still thought there was a chance.’
‘How do you feel about seeing yourself looking so tired onscreen?’ I ask.
‘It’s not a shock really. I was exhausted.’
We watch as Chudinov connects with a hard looking uppercut.
‘That looked like it might have hurt,’ I groan.
‘Yeah,’ smiles Frank.
‘It’s good that you’re laughing about these things…’
The bell rings for the final round and it’s no use pretending that the fight was even close. Even Sofia standing quietly beside us can see that.
‘At this stage you must have known that you’d lost,’ I say.
‘Yes. I was a little bit spaced out. That’s a good description,’ says Frank. ‘It was an exhausting fight and you don’t always think clearly afterwards. There was a lot of things jumping around my head: I was disappointed with the two-point deduction, although it wouldn’t have made any difference to the result of the fight…’
‘You don’t seem to be angry about that decision,’ I say. ‘A lot of people would be very bitter about it…’
‘No. Anger doesn’t really come into it. It’s not in my emotions,’ says Frank. ‘It was an honour to be fighting for the world title. A great experience. A great achievement. I just want to move on to better things.’
‘What do you think was the main difference between you and Chudinov?’ I ask.
‘Well he just didn’t expend any unnecessary energy,’ says Frank. ‘He’d obviously trained so long on the bags that his muscle memory could punch all day. He just let them flow naturally.
‘I’ve learned a lot from him. Rather than fighting in bursts that use 100% of your energy I’m going to drop it right down to about 87%, which is still going to do a lot of damage, but is more sustainable.’
Frank talks about his plan to fight at a heavier weight and how it’s going to help him. ‘Give me another four years…’ he says.
I offer him an unprovoked suggestion: ‘My feeling is that what needs to happen…’
‘…Is that somebody gives me an iron bar?’
‘…Is that a big name is fighting and his opponent pulls out and they bring you in at the last minute.
‘You need a big name,’ I tell him. ‘You need a big win. You must have thought that yourself?’
‘Yes. But I’m happy to take my time. Rebuild. Go and do some very high quality sparring.’
I thank Frank for his generosity. I tell him that hopefully there will come a time when he can return to my kitchen and together we can watch him win that elusive world title.
‘That’s why I’m here and why I speak to you so often because I respect what you do,’ says Frank. ‘And I’ve got a lot of trust in you…’
‘Well that’s very nice of you.’
‘If not I’ll have to send someone round.…’
‘Do you see that Sofia?’ I say. ‘Somebody who finally respects what I do…’
‘Buglioni lands dream world title shot’ Was the headline once news of Buglioni’s next fight and opponent broke. Buglioni had secured himself a dream chance to fight for the world title.
However, July 24th 2015 was not to be the night Buglioni would face Chudinov for a crack at his WBA Super Middlewight world title. Only two weeks before the date, Fedor Chudinov would withdraw from the contest with a suspected broken nose. (A report/photo of the injury would not appear – a delay tactic used by the champion to let his opponents over train.) – Allegedly!
Buglioni decided to stick to the original date and make use of the option to have a full ‘dress-rehearsal’ in the form of a tune up fight. This could be seen as risky by someone on the outside of Team Wise Guy; Buglioni could sustain an unnecessary cut or injury whilst competing and his world title shot would come to a screeching halt.
However Buglioni and his Trainers, Steve & Paschal Collins were full of confidence and on Buglioni’s form in training camp it was almost a certainty that Buglioni would come away with a devastating and risk-free victory.
The Collins brother’s experience and Buglioni’s form should not of been questioned. It was exactly the demolition job they had wanted. He also picked up the WBA Super-Middleweight International title in the process.
Buglioni’s opponent would arrive in the form of Fernando Castenada, a tough Super Middleweight from Mexico who’s last contest was winning the WBC FECOMBOX Cruiserweight title. Castenada made no attempt to make weight and graced the scales at 175.5lbs, Putting him into the Cruiserweight category for the second time of his career.
Castenada could not land on Buglioni, who used his superior footwork, head movement and defensive manouvers to stay out of harms way. He smashed home his jab and 1,2 combinations from a safe distance and chipped away at his tough Mexican opponent.
After 5 rounds of sustained and systematic punishment Castenada decided to go fro broke, he threw two wild hooks, Buglioni blocked and countered with his own left hook, which clearly shook Castenada. Buglioni then measured him for a thunderous right hook to the head, Castenada slumped to the canvas to be counted out.
This fight had been long awaited, by both Buglioni & Markham. An eagerly anticipated match up, where the rivalry stretched as far back as when they fought in the amateur days…
As amateur boxers, Buglioni had beaten Markham in the under 20 bout Senior boxing competition, in fact it was the North East Division finals. A year later they boxed again in the same competition, this time Markham came out the winner. However Markham pulled out of the London final after sustaining an injury in the Buglioni fight, Buglioni went onto face John Ryder in what was to be fight of the night and brought the house down at York Hall (this would be the first of many times Buglioni would fight at York Hall, and bring the house down!)
Buglioni & Markham had a grudge against one another, nothing personal (both stating the to the press in the pre fight build up) and it is clear there is a mutual respect when talking of one another. Much like the majority of rivalries in boxing, it tends to be from a professional stand point, each fighter wants to prove he is the better man.
First round, Buglioni & Markham keep their guards tight and try to find openings with hooks and uppercuts, trading jabs before closing the distance and working on the inside, two stand out left hooks to the body from Buglioni. Even round.
Second and third round much of the same, Buglioni lands the cleaner punches and makes Markham miss whilst moving on the back foot. Fourth round sees Buglioni catch Markham on the way in frequently but lands a telling combination in the closing stansa of the fourth.
Fifth round, Buglioni keeps Markham at range for the first two minutes of the round, Markham grits his teeth and lands some eye catching shots in the final minute, but Buglioni answers back. Four rounds to one on Enzo Macranelli & John Rawlings score cards.
Sixth round Markham stays close and exerts good pressure on Buglioni, Buglioni lands with a crunching body punch which clearly hurts Markham, but credit to the Harold Hill man biting on his gumshield and soaking up the punch.
Markahm exerts his will on Buglioni in the 7th as Buglioni begins to look a little drained and ragged. But Buglioni moves well and comes on strong towards the end of the round.
Round eight sees both men go to war with some eye catching combinations being thrown and landed.
Buglioni dominates round nine and really pulls away on the score cards. The Boxnation team stating; Markham needs a knockout to take the victory. Both fighters give there all in the closing round and put on a real performance, their bout would later be nominated for domestic fight of the year.
The scores coming in 96-94 Markham 96-94 Buglioni and 95-95 a piece. The fight ends in a draw and perhaps sets up a 4th and final decider. Watch this space…
The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights. – Muhammad Ali.
For the experienced fighter and the educated fight fan; the result on fight night is simply an answer to the question; ‘Who has worked the hardest (and with best direction) in training camp?’ – A conclusion that is displayed through the fighters ability to undertake and overcome numerous challenges leading up to the main event;
Training hard and educated, to turn up in the best physical and mental state without carrying injuries or illness, which can often often occur due to the high levels of stress exerted onto both the mind and body throughout the months of intense work.Then crucially ‘Making weight’ properly, giving the fighter as much of a size advantage as possible without compromising speed, sharpness and energy reserves.
The aforementioned points then culminate in the result of the contest and the fashion in which it was achieved. From Buglioni’s flawless one round destruction of Ivan Jukic, It was evident that Buglioni’s preparation had been far superior to that of his opponent.
Time spent in Dublin with Steve & Paschal Collins had served Buglioni well, more encouraging is the speed of his improvements. With each contest that goes by, upgrades in defensive capabilities, enhancements with footwork, head movement and hand positioning. Technical attributes that have not undermined Buglioni’s natural power or aggression.
I am excited for the future and the greater challenges that Buglioni will face and that I know he will overcome. – Friend & Fan.
Buglioni ExCels himself to regain WBO European belt
Undefeated in 13 and never knocked down, this was the gauntlet laid out by Andrew Robinson on 29th November at the Excel Arena, London. It was a fight that Buglioni had trained hard for and one that 1,000 Team Buglioni fans had flocked to see – Frank looking to stake his claim for the WBO European Super Middleweight title for a second time.
Before the previous fight had come to fruition the chants of the 1,000 strong Team Buglioni masses, along with a good percentage of the other fight fans, rang out across the 20,000 seater arena. Needless to say that given his reputation, it was a fight that promised to deliver explosive boxing, and it didn’t disappoint.
Frank opened the first round (perhaps too eager) empowered by his deafening crowd, he walked into Robinson’s range and was punished by two forceful right hands. Undeterred Buglioni continued to press the action and traded shots with Robinson. A round that could be scored 10-10. The second started with punishing right hands over the top of Robinson’s guard, combined with left hooks to the body – it was obvious that Robinson could feel the power of Buglioni at his best.
There were a few exchanges, with Frank displaying some educated defensive work to compliment his attacking form. Buglioni took the next three rounds, getting the better of Robinson when they traded and certainly landing the more telling shots.
To credit the boxer from Wolverhampton, he had success with the right hand but Buglioni’s granite chin strode through blows and marched on to deliver his own shots which were quickly mounting up. In between rounds you could see the mental work that Steve and Packy Collins were imparting on Frank taking effect, an ever-patient and positive influence in the corner was showing in the ring as Frank took his time to dismantle his opponent.
As a result of the hard work and patience Robinson was slowing and Frank seemed to be getting in to his groove; the jab was accurate and served as a range finder for the left hook and sharp right. Upper cuts were landing frequently for Buglioni now, as Robinson decided to try his luck on the inside, unfortunately for him he found no more shelter there than he did from range. A stiff fast puncher, it was clear that Robinson had skill and possessed the right tools to lay on a stern challenge but as the rounds progressed and the body shots mounted, Frank blazed a fiercely accurate and hurting left hook on to his chin and he went over. Beating the count, as his record would suggest he would, Robinson found his feet just before the bell rang for the end of the 7th.
At the 8th Buglioni sensed his man was hurt, he chased the stoppage victory. More heavily decisive shots were imparted and for all watching it looked as though the referee would call time on the visitors night – only to be interrupted by the sound of the bell for the end of the round. Robinson, out on his feet, collapsed into his stool and gathered his composure.
The ninth round saw Buglioni boxing with education and poise, looking to make each shot count. Credit should go to Robinson for surviving the 8th and coming out reinvigorated in the 9th, getting off his own shots but unfortunately it was too late and his attempts to land were again met with some stubborn defensive work. The final round was all or nothing for Robinson and he showed strong determination, soaking up more of the Buglioni onslaught. His efforts to defend himself saw a clash of heads which opened up a small cut above Franks left eye, but this did little to deter the Londoner from seeing out the fight and signing off with a hard fought, yet very well deserved unanimous win.
Just to the left of the back of beyond in a boxing gym called Target Fitness I offer my hand to Steve Collins. The former WBO middleweight and super-middleweight champion eyes me a little suspiciously before reluctantly extending his own. “Jey-sus, I thought you were going to kiss me!” he says in an unmistakable Irish brogue.
Collins has not long turned 50 and looks good on it, certainly better than I do. If you squint it is difficult to discern much of a difference between the man standing before you and the boxer who cleaned up the British end of the super-middleweight division in unequivocal fashion during the mid-1990s. “Not just yet,” I say, feeling in his fingers a little of the power that earned Collins double wins over rivals of the calibre of Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank.
Gloved up next to the former champion is a young fighter and occasional model named Frank Buglioni. Although Buglioni would be the first to admit that the Southern Area super-middleweight title he picked up this September is some way short of the prestige that he covets, in Steve Collins he sees a template that he hopes will put him in more esteemed company.
“I’ve always been a fan of Steve Collins and I’ve met him at various events in the boxing world,” Buglioni tells me as he prepares for the older man to put him through his paces. “You can’t get any better than what he’s achieved and how he achieved it.”
I perch on the ring apron and watch Buglioni aim punches at his new trainer. This is not the first time I have seen Buglioni do this. In March of this year I saw him exchange blows with an impressively muscled Ovil McKenzie in London’s Canning Town. On that occasion former boxer Mark Tibbs was the man mopping Buglioni’s brow and although at the time I kept it to myself, there was something troubling me about what I was seeing.
Buglioni was just a week away from the second defence of something called the WBO European super-middleweight champion. His opponent was a wily old coyote named Sergey Khomitsky and although hardly cannon-fodder, everyone was expecting Buglioni to beat the 40-year-old veteran handily. Nevertheless, I found it difficult to ignore the air of complacency that seemed to pervade what I saw in that gym. Although punches were thrown and received in great quantity by Buglioni, there was something subtly lacking in intensity. It was difficult to put your finger on it but it still came as a surprise when Buglioni was halted in six rounds.
“We knew it was the biggest step up in my career to date. We knew he was a very good opponent but knew that he falls apart after about six or seven rounds,” an eloquent, focused Buglioni remembers. “He’s 39 years old so I had the youth on him but I didn’t box to my strengths. I think I could have put the pressure on earlier, settled him down a little bit, made him wary rather than trying to lull him into a false sense of security and catch him with counters.
“You just know in their eyes. I hit him with a shot and his back leg gave way a little bit. And I went in and threw a few shots and he held. When I was hurt I didn’t have that experience. I didn’t hold. I didn’t tie him up. I tried to fight when my coordination and timing wasn’t there. And that’s what happened in the sixth round. He caught me with a good shot and I went with him a little bit. And then he caught me with exactly the same left hook round the side and on the chin again.”
“My trainer stopped the fight because he knew that fella could have finished me and done more damage,” Frank continues. “I’m not naive – I know he could have done that. I was in no position to continue at that time. And that’s probably why I’m so confident and I’ve come back so strong. Because I walked out of that ring. I wasn’t put on my arse.
“It didn’t hurt. Obviously my legs went, my coordination went and the ropes probably kept me up but I didn’t go down. In the corner of my eye I saw the referee and I thought, ‘don’t jump in! Don’t jump in!’. I was still thinking, although obviously I couldn’t defend myself.”
“I’m glad I lost,” reflects Buglioni on the defeat that prompted him to seek a new trainer. “When I look back and I’ve got the world title around my waist I’ll say that the loss put me back on the right track.
“Sometimes you have to be beat to realise that you need to rectify things and do them properly. That fight stopped me from just going through the motions. I’m a fighter now. I get on with my job. I’m there to hurt people now.”
The person he’s hurting today is Steve Collins. I watch as teacher and student navigate the boundaries of the ring. In one corner Collins ties Buglioni up and grunts encouragement as his protégé works at improving his infighting. In the centre of the ring Buglioni continually prods out his big jab and follows through with a heavy right that makes me wince. Always pressing, pressing, pressing with tangible urgency. Even though Collins is wearing a ridiculously oversized body protector he will sometimes stop the action and gratefully gulp in a mouthful of air: “That one fucking hurt!” he exclaims on more than one occasion.
It’s fascinating to watch: A little bit of Brockton, Massachusetts transplanted to Cheshunt, Hertfordshire. A direct link to the habits that Collins absorbed in his early days with the Petronelli brothers, trainers of a certain Marvin Hagler. A level of intensity that Buglioni hopes will turn him from fringe contender to champion.
“Once I’d left Mark I rang Steve and said I needed advice,” Buglioni tells me later as he eats a salad prepared by himself. “I said I wanted to get away from London and all the pressure. I wanted to go down the same route that he did.
“He said: why don’t I fly out to Dublin and meet his brother, Paschal, and see what it’s like? The day after I spoke to him I was on a plane and that afternoon I was sparring with Gary O’Sullivan at the Celtic Warrior’s Gym. There are hungry, determined fighters there and they are all pushing each other. So when I came back I told Steve that I wanted to make it work.”
And Steve certainly likes to work. While Buglioni showers I find Collins sweating it out on an exercise bike. He talks about the Petronelli days. About how Hagler would never spar with him. “I understand now,” he says breathlessly. “You don’t want some young fighter trying to knock your head off. In those days I thought I could beat anybody.” He talks about those contests with Eubank, about how unbelievably strong the Brighton fighter was. About how hard Nigel Benn hit. He talks about Roy Jones Jr…
Collins is one of boxing’s more presentable survivors. Unlike so many he has managed to avoid the bankruptcy courts and lives in comfort in St. Albans. He owns a working farm with cows and sheep, plays polo and, in addition to Buglioni, finds time to oversee the nascent career of his cruiserweight son, Steve Collins Jr.. But one has only to Google the ex-fighter to find plenty of evidence of an ongoing desire to fight the faded Roy Jones Jr..
“He’s still got it,” says Buglioni. “Steve was a master technician and I know that chopping right hand he throws very well. It creates a lot of power. When we’re on the pads he shows his shots and throws them around the shoulders and you can still feel the power.”
Up close Buglioni does not look much like a boxer. At 25-years-of-age he’s picked up the occasional nick but he still has the film star good looks that can have rivals and commentators dismissing him as a Fancy Dan, a latter day Gary Stretch. One only has to spend a few moments with him, however, to understand that Buglioni is deadly serious about what he does.
“For the next fight I will stay in Dublin for six weeks,” he says. “I rent out a little one-bed apartment in the city centre. I don’t see the night-life. I’m in the gym twice a day. I do my own shopping and my own cooking. I don’t go out in the evening. I’m in bed by 9:30 p.m.”
The man responsible for robbing Buglioni of his night-life is one Andrew Robinson. The pair meet on the undercard of Fury-Chisora In November when Buglioni will attempt to regain the title he lost to Khomitsky. The unbeaten Robinson has the disconcerting nickname of ‘D’Animal’ but that does not seem to intimidate Buglioni. “Robinson will be the one going to bed early when we meet,” he says as we exit the gym just to the left of the back of beyond.
York Hall, September 20th 2014. Buglioni Vs Ribchev 10 round contest.
Buglioni’s 15th fight would be against the no.1 Bulgarian Middleweight, Alexeev Ribchev. Only twice been stopped in a 30 fight career. We would witness just how tough this Bulgarian would prove to be.
Both fighters weighed twelve stone, one and one half pounds on the scales at the day before official weigh in. But it was clear to say Buglioni had come to the scales and contest in superior shape. A testament to his new trainers; world renowned Boxing brothers; Steve & Paschal Collins. (Please see blog article; ‘Wise Guy joins Celtic Warriors’ for in depth report on Buglioni’s change of trainers)
Round 1, Buglioni starts the aggressor and pushes Ribchev back with spiteful jabs and straight rights. Finding Ribchev on the ropes, Buglioni began to set up hooks and short uppercuts. A flurry of shots including some punishing right hands sees Buglioni shake Ribchev and take the round comfortably.
The second round follows suit, Buglioni dominating from the centre, pushing Ribchev back with powerful straights. Buglioni pushing Ribchev close to the ropes lands with vicious short uppercuts and hooks on the inside, not power punches but hurtful skimming shots which are marking Ribchevs eyes and cheeks. Another Buglioni round.
Going into the third Ribchev needs to fight back to avoid being stopped by the ref. he throws some lunging combinations which Buglioni blocks with an improved guard and high left hand. Ribchev is met with counter right hands for his troubles and is shaken. Buglioni sensing his man hurt, continues to unload combinations and rapid fire punches. Ribchev uses every ounce of experience to hold, tie up and spoil til the end of the round. His corner have work to do bringing down his now swollen eyes.
The fourth round sees Buglioni outbox Ribchev and fire shots at distance, catching a leaping left hook from Ribchev, Buglioni is not troubled but responds positively with some hard shots of his own. Four rounds up Buglioni returns to a happy corner.
Instructed to keep doing what he’s doing and start switching to the body, Buglioni is up off his stool and into the fifth round. Buglioni finds openings off his jab, dropping to the body after side stepping. A new technique from camp Collins in Dublin no doubt. Buglioni piles on the pressure, unanswered combinations sees Jeff Hinds the referee take a closer look at the action and is ready to jump in and save Ribchev on more than one occasion. The crowd roar Buglioni on as the finish seems imminent. Ribchev however survives another round, the Bulgarian shows a toughness beyond belief.
The sixth round commences with Buglioni finishing where he left off, swinging and missing Ribchev is caught by 3 stinging right hands as Buglioni counters and side steps one after the other. The final right opens up a nasty gash to the right eye of Ribchev, with blood soaked vision, Buglioni sees Ribchev’s vulnerability and unleashes even more punches. The referee and doctor deem Ribchev unable to continue and the contest is called to halt halfway through the 6th round. Another TKO victory in favour of Buglioni. Team Collins & The Wiseguy will be pleased with a solid opening performance to their newly found partnership and the improvements will be built on for the next outing on November 29th. Watch this space.
Frank Buglioni in Collaboration with Hamilton & Hare in the #BoxerProject
To celebrate our boxing roots, we’ve partnered with up and coming British boxer, Frank Buglioni, to create a limited edition ‘Frank’ collection of boxer shorts. Available with your own fighting nickname embroidered on the side reflecting a tendency of boxing greats.
Mr. Frank Buglioni
Fight Name: The Wise Guy
Weight Division: Super-middle weight
Career high to date: WBO European Super Middleweight belt.
Motto: ‘The harder I train the luckier I get’
Boxing record: 13 wins (10 knockouts, 3 decisions) 1 loss
Frank started boxing at the age of 14 and was selected to fight for England at the age of 19. After an illustrious amateur career, including 25 knockout wins hewas given the opportunity to start his pro career with Mark & Jimmy Tibbs the famous East-London trainers with a track record of multiple world champions. Since then he was gone from strength to strength, winning the WBO European Title in 2013 and described by the Independent as ‘talent that will hit the big time in 2014’. He recently appointed Steve Collins, ‘The Celtic Warrior’ and former WBO super middleweight champion as his new trainer and Steve has said of him:
“Franks got heart, a good chin and intelligence.
If you have all those three, you can build a champion”.
We’re delighted to be working with Frank. Click HERE to watch the video.