Seven fights. Seven victories. Five of them by knockout. Three within the first round. It may still be too early to call 23-year-old super-middleweight prospect Mr Frank Buglioni the next big thing – as some have already rushed to do – but the evidence is certainly starting to mount up.
Since making his pro debut in November 2011, the north Londoner has made his mark with a series of impressive performances – none more so than his most recent bout, when he sent veteran 38-year-old Mr Ciaran Healy crashing to the canvas in the second round – but it’s not just his hard-hitting antics inside the ring that have got people talking. In a sport characterised by spectacle and driven by the bottom line, it’s at the box office that he really shines. A young prospect he may be, and with only a handful of professional bouts to his name, but the man they call Frank “Wise Guy” Buglioni is already drawing a big crowd.
The secret to his success? Ask his manager, Mr William Storey, who in typically emphatic style refers to him as “the David Beckham of boxing”.
“The guy’s a steel fist in a velvet glove,” says Mr Storey of his young charge. “He just ticks all the boxes. He’s smart, he’s polite, and he’s got the looks, too. Put him in a suit and he’s the perfect gentleman. Put him in the ring, though, and he just knocks everyone out. He’s like a better-looking Rocky Marciano.”
In short, then, rather like Mr Beckham himself, he’s what you might refer to as “the complete package”. Style and substance.
Of course there’s also the matter of Mr Buglioni’s Italian heritage. There’s no more celebrated a character in all of boxing lore than the Italian underdog, after all, and when we eventually get the chance to sit down with the man himself after a long day in the studio, it’s the first thing that’s asked.
Rocky Marciano, Jake LaMotta, Joe Calzaghe… the sons of Italy seem to have a rich boxing heritage. Is that something you feel?
Absolutely, and that’s something I’ve been labelled with as I’ve been coming through. I’m known as Wise Guy, as I’m sure you’ve heard. I can’t quite explain it. But it’s only a compliment to be named alongside guys like LaMotta and Calzaghe – they’re heroes of mine.
You seem like a placid guy. How do things change when you get in the ring?
A switch flicks when I get in the ring. It has to. You’ve got to be aggressive to succeed; you’ve got to hit them harder than they hit you. And you’ve got to want to.
How do you prepare for a fight?
I train twice a day every day, six days a week. My next bout is in March, so right now it’s just about staying fit, eating well, and building up my stamina for longer fights.
Do you have any tips for someone who wants to keep fit, but struggles to work it around his regime?
I’d suggest getting up early – it can be hard but it forces you into a routine, and you’ll sleep well at the end of the day. The biggest change you can make is diet, though. Try drinking nothing but water for an entire month, and seeing how you feel at the end of it – you’ll be surprised.
You’re unbeaten at the moment. Is that record something that means a lot to you?
Without a doubt. I’ll keep it as long as I can – hopefully to the end of my career. But I’m not unrealistically devoted to it. Obviously the further I go the harder it’s going to be to hold on to it.
Boxing can be a fickle mistress. One heavy defeat at the top level, and you’re under pressure to retire.
Sure, but getting knocked out doesn’t mean the end of the road. Just look at Amir Khan – he’s come back stronger than ever. Yes, there’s always criticism, and in many ways it’s aimed at keeping fighters who are out of their depth from getting hurt, but only the fighter and the trainer truly know what they’re capable of.
So do you think that you’re the kind of guy that could get beaten, and have the grit to come back and try again?
Absolutely. I’ve been beaten at amateur level before, and I’ve come back stronger. You learn from your losses, so there’s no reason why a fighter with a couple of defeats can’t be a better boxer – a more experienced boxer – than someone who’s undefeated.
Have you ever been hurt badly?
Not in a fight – not seriously. I’ve done damage to my hands, but that’s inevitable especially if you’re a hard puncher. I’ve no doubt that it’s going to happen to me during my career, though.
Where’s the most painful place to get hit?
Body shots can really wind you, and suck the life out of you. That’s where your fitness and strength comes in. You’ve got to grit your teeth and pretend like you didn’t feel it. If you let your opponents know you’re hurt, they’ll do it again. Well, that’s what I’d do, anyway…
When it comes to being out of the ring, how would you describe your style?
I’m quite understated. I stick to neutral colours, keep it simple. I’ve got a few Paul Smith suits that seem to fit me well, they’re nicely tapered. And I’m a fan of Gucci or Dolce & Gabbana accessories.
You walked in London Collections: Men recently for Rake. How was that?
That was a great experience. Something different, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Funnily enough, though, it was quite nerve-wracking.
So walking the catwalk was scarier than walking into a boxing ring?
Yeah! Fear of the unknown, I guess.
Below; Frank models for RakeStyle in London Collections: Men.
Photography by Mr Jermaine Francis
Styling by Mr Tony Cook
Words by Mr Chris Elvidge