By Gavan Casey
FRANK BUGLIONI ON DOING YOUR HOMEWORK
“To be honest with you, it’s very similar to London. The big difference is the gym. And that comes down to the main man Paschal Collins. He offers a wealth of experience and world class training.”
Frank ‘Wise Guy’ Buglioni lives up to his moniker. Not necessarily in its mafioso, ‘cheeky chappy’ sense, but in its literal form- a characteristic not usually associated with pugilistic brawlers.
Outside of the ring, Buglioni is wise beyond his 25 years; suitably engaging, but a detailed observationist of his surroundings- constantly studying both his own skills and that of his Celtic Warrior gym mates, along with the science behind his chosen profession in general.
In his own words he is constantly learning. In truth, during the course of our conversation he probably poses more interesting questions than I do.
“Sparring has gone well- I’ve sparred big cruiserweights like Tommy McCarthy, who’s not a southpaw but he’s a big, physical guy. Then I go on and spar a southpaw when I’m feeling a bit tired, a bit drained, to keep the skill level sharp and focused.
“I know people might say my next opponent Ivan Jukic was knocked out by Chris Eubank in a round. But He was given a couple of days’ notice for that fight. This time he’s coming in with six weeks notice. And for a fighter of his level to be coming in at six weeks notice, I expect him to be in shape and to have done his homework. I know I certainly have.”
Homework is integral to any boxing student who wishes to make the grade. Buglioni views his stoppage defeat to Sergey Khomitsky last April as he should – a lesson. He subsequently moved to Dublin with a view to enrolling as a pupil in the Celtic Warrior school of boxing, in an attempt to further his education and career under the tutelage of Paschal Collins.
Class is in session during each sparring stanza, with the current WBO European champion adhering to the suggestions of his trainer. Sharp pivots, well-thought combinations to both the head and body. In and out, striking in a serpentine manner we’re more used to seeing from another British super-middleweight.
“What we’ve tried to work on a lot with Paschal is footwork. Boxing on the backfoot. Obviously I have a reputation as a come-forward fighter, so I’m constantly learning how to adapt more and escape from danger. Because if I can move my head more and apply pressure while keeping a good defence, I’m a more effective fighter. And I know I can do that. So it’s all about knowing when to do it, when not to do it.”
I mention a certain welterweight compatriot who has remolded his approach under similar circumstances.
“It’s all about balance, isn’t it? Amir Khan has improved defensively without losing that entertainment factor. I’m always going to take a few shots, don’t get me wrong. It’s part of my style and I’ll never totally lose that. But I need to take less, and punish opponents for their mistakes. But I still love to be in exciting fights.”
He always has been. It’s Buglioni’s fan-friendly approach along which has seen him amass a nigh on cult following in his native London, with hoards of fans set to raise the domed roof in London’s O2 Arena when he takes on Croatian Ivan Jukic this Saturday. His professional record stands at 15-1 with 11 KOs, and as an amateur Buglioni won half of his fights by way of stoppage. Even allowing for the aforementioned fine-tuning to his fight style, the Anglo-Italian’s sparring with Cork middleweight contender Spike O’Sullivan certainly makes for compelling viewing.
It’s clear from the pair’s recently forged friendship that Buglioni has rapidly ascended to ‘one of the lads’ status in his new home- no mean feat in a gym brimful of ‘wise guys.’ But his acclimatisation is not merely a dividend of his amicable demeanour; it quickly becomes clear that Frank Buglioni’s work ethic is second to none within the parameter of gym walls which demand north of 100 per cent effort from all of its representatives.
His trainer Paschal Collins is under no illusions that improving a fighter’s defence is a gradual process.
“It takes a long, long time, and I’ve said that to Frank. But he has been working very hard on his defence in a number of ways. Firstly, he tends to stand in front of guys after he throws a shot. So what we’ve looked to work on first and foremost is that if he does decide to stand there, his hands are up to catch shots as they come at him,” says the Irish Trainer of the Year.
“And what were actually doing now is working on slipping those shots. Moving out of the way, slipping to the side. Make them miss and make them pay. But there’s nothing immediate about it, as Frank knows.”
Buglioni does know, and if his two victories since his move to Celtic Warrior have seen him not atypically eat some shots like they were his last meal, ‘Wise Guy’ has at least shown an element of offensive maturity that he maintains was lacking from his arsenal pre-Khomitsky.
A unanimous decision victory over previously undefeated Andrew Robinson drew mixed reviews from pundits and scribes alike, but Buglioni is intriguingly analytical in his breakdown of the scrap.
“Tough boy, wasn’t he? He took some big shots. I threw at him early and really thought I’d get him out of there, but when they were bouncing off him I took a step back and said, ‘he’s not going anywhere for the time being. I better make sure I win the fight, first and foremost.’
So I tried to outbox him, and I did. I did try to get him out again late on, but it wasn’t to be.
It’s all about learning and improving. And I believe I’m in the right place to do that, and to achieve my aim of becoming a world champion. I feel at home here.”
But how would he feel about a rematch with Khomitskiy?
“I believe I’d beat him right now, 100 per cent. And we’ll be looking to make that happen. But right now I’m not looking past Jukic on the 28th.”
As Buglioni starts a post-spar skipping session, his trainer asks can he borrow the super-middleweight’s gloves.
“Mi casa es su casa.”
His move across the Irish Sea is certainly the road less travelled by, on a quest that Frank Buglioni believes will culminate with a world title belt wrapped around his waist. It might just make all the difference.
Gavan can be contacted on Twitter: @GavanCasey – or at [email protected]
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