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Frank Buglioni Q&A: Career-defining changes lead to British title glory

By Ian Aldous: On Saturday June 3rd, Frank Buglioni (19-2-1) defends his British light-heavyweight championship against Ricky Summers (13-0), at the O2 Arena, live on Sky Sports. That belt was acquired in dramatic fashion last December on enemy territory in Manchester against Hosea Burton, and now he returns home to London to defend the title. It will serve as chief support to the heavyweight contest between Dillian Whyte and Mariusz Wach. Last week, following some sparring with George Groves, Frank took some time to talk with me over the phone about the fight and his career to date.

IA: First of all, you’ll be defending your British light-heavyweight title on June 3rd in a re-scheduled fight against Ricky Summers. What are your thoughts on him as an opponent and how much do you know about him?

FB: I’ve seen a couple of his fights. I know he’s sparred with Carl Froch and Nathan Cleverly, so he obviously knows his way around the ring – very strong, very fit, very tough and does the basics well. What I haven’t seen is, I haven’t seen him change levels, change gears and go up to that high-calibre – whereas I know that I can do that and I’ll be looking to go in there and take him out of his comfort zone, make it a very hard and grueling fight. We’ll see how tough he is and if he can last the distance.

IA: He’s not really fought anyone of note yet, but he’s undefeated. I guess we don’t really know how good he can be?

FB: That’s why I’m treating him like he’s a top level opponent, giving him the full respect he deserves. I go into all my training camps with the mindset that I’m preparing for this fight to the best of my ability and I’m also preparing for the future. I’ve a lot of confidence in my chances to make it to world level and win world honors. I’ve mixed it with some of the best guys in sparring – (I’ve) held my own. So, yeah I’m very confident in what I can achieve. I know that I have to put on a good performance, no hiccups and get a good job done.

IA: Last time out, you claimed the 175lbs Lonsdale belt, stopping Hosea Burton in the twelfth round. After a bad first round and sustaining multiple cuts, talk me through how you showed tremendous heart and a really high work-rate to pressurize and TKO Burton so late in the fight. What was that fight like for you as it was panning out?

FB: I enjoyed every round. First round, I went in and I was probably a little bit overzealous, overconfident. He caught me with a lovely one-two. I felt his power, his snap and his sharpness. But after that first round, I never really felt that power again. I felt I was accustomed to it. If you look closely there was one right-hand that caught me underneath the eye (to cause) one of the cuts and the other two (cuts) were caused by head clashes. That’s no slur on Hosea Burton, when I caught him and he kind of laid back on the ropes and crouched down to defend himself and I was rushing forward – there was going to be head clashes. With him being the taller man, dipping his head a bit lower and me looking for the body shots, I caught them flush (the head clashes) and they were solid and they cut me open. I learned from it, maybe not rush in as much and pick shots a bit cuter.

IA: Not to sound dramatic, but would it have been tough to know where to go next if you’d lost?

FB: Yeah, possibly. I was certainly up against it, I was in his hometown, I was without a promoter. I’ve only just signed with Eddie Hearn now so I was without a promoter – the away fighter. I put myself in the mandatory position to get that opportunity because they didn’t want to fight me. There were a lot of things being said, truth be told, they were doing everything to avoid the fight with me. They knew it was going to be a tough fight, they knew I was going to bring everything and I had to get into a mandatory position to force their hand. Aside from Nathan Cleverly, I don’t think there’s another guy in the country that can beat me. Once I’ve dealt with the British scene, I’ll be looking at the likes of Nathan Cleverly and stepping up to that world level.

IA: Your biggest fight to date was obviously the WBA world super-middleweight title fight with Fedor Chudinov in 2015. You went the distance and proved your toughness, how do you feel when you reflect on that fight now? Did it come a bit too early in your career or was it a good learning experience?

FB: I think it was a great learning experience. What that fight showed me was that was the final straw for me at super-middleweight. I knew that I was too big for that weight. I’d had a couple of off nights against the likes of Lee Markham. No discredit to Lee Markham because the best come out of him that night and I wouldn’t take nothing away from him. I thought I did enough to nick the fight (the draw against Markham), to be honest. I knew I had a few off nights at super-middleweight and I was never the same fighter at super-middleweight towards the end and (compared to) what I am now at light-heavy. I’m comfortable at the weight and I’m doing all the training that I can do. I’m eating sufficiently and staying hydrated throughout camp and I feel so much better. So, when I look back at the Chudinov fight, yeah it was a good fight and I went the distance but it was probably about 50% of my potential against that man! I learnt the hard way about the weight-making. Just because you can get down to twelve-stone doesn’t mean that you should. Now that I’ve moved up to twelve-stone seven (pounds), I’m still a similar weight to what I was walking around at super-middle, It’s just I haven’t got to cut so much in the final few weeks. I’m in a great place physically and mentally.

IA: Also after the Chudinov fight, you reached out to Don Charles, trainer of Dereck Chisora. Tell me about meeting him and now having him as your trainer.

FB: I’ve always had a lot of respect for Don Charles. I knew him from the early days of Boxnation. He’s always a guy that was approachable and very friendly, but he didn’t take no shit, and I respected that. I see what he done with Dereck Chisora and he’s made Dereck a very good fighter. He’s up and down with his mindset and it can be off a little bit, but with Don in his corner, he really calms Dereck down and brings the best out of him. So, I’d always respected Don for that, and I like the way Chisora fights. I like the way he comes forward, he moves his head, he crosses his arms on the inside. He’s a very skillful fighter and a lot of people don’t see that. So, I knew that Don could do good things for me. Then since joining him, obviously I’m back in London so I’m in a happy environment. He’s got a second in command called Luke Portanier who is a Muay Thai professional fighter himself and a student of the game. He’s been studying boxing for fifteen/twenty years. He’s also my trainer and he brings defensive elements and that’s really starting to come together for me now.

IA: Not only was it a change of trainer and weight division, you also left Queensberry Promotions after the Chudinov fight. Was it just a case of your contract with Frank Warren expiring?

FB: Yeah, it was the contract expiring. When I left Frank Warren, I wanted to chase that British title and we had discussions about my future and that wasn’t one of the options he (Frank Warren) thought would be a good thing to chase. With my father, we sat down and I said ‘I want to get that British title and do it alone’ in terms of not having a promoter, I’ll be the away fighter. I’ll be up against it all, but I want to prove to myself and prove to the fans that I can still be a very good fighter. And that’s what I went and done. With the help of Steve Goodwin (Buglioni’s manager), he got me into the mandatory (position) and steered me in the right direction. Obviously, with the new trainer in Don Charles and Luke Portanier, we went and got it, we defied the odds and came away with that British title. It was the boost I needed psychologically to know that I’ve still got it and can still mix it at a high level. For me, Hosea Burton is above British level, he’s a very underrated fighter. I would say that our British title fight was, kind of, European level, if not, fringe World title level. It was a great fight to come through and be victorious.

IA: Now you’re with the juggernaut that is Matchroom Boxing, it must be great for you to fight on Sky Sports as opposed to Boxnation. As I said to Tommy Langford: Boxnation is great for hardcore fans, but more casual fans aren’t often aware of those fight cards.

FB: Yeah, what you’ve got to realise is, people that subscribe to Boxnation are watching every fight – they’re the hardcore. They’re the ones you’re going to get watching whether you fight on Channel 5, whether you fight on Sky Sports – they’re always going to see your fights. Even if it’s not televised, they’ll be streaming online and going to these small-hall shows. So, you’re known to these hardcore fans, regardless. Sky is a huge platform, it gets you into the casuals and the general public and all of a sudden that’s when the big opportunities arrive, it builds your profile. It’s great to be part of that.

Frank Buglioni vs. Ricky Summers for the British light-heavyweight championship is the co-feature of the June 3rd fight card from the O2 Arena headlined by Dillian Whyte vs. Mariusz Wach in a heavyweight clash, live on Sky Sports.

Tickets are on sale now, with tickets priced £40 – £120 via www.theo2.co.uk. £250 VIP tickets available exclusively from www.matchroomboxing.com

Face value tickets for June 3 are also available from http://www.stubhub.co.uk/matchroom-boxing-tickets/ . StubHub is the official ticket partner and marketplace of Matchroom Boxing and Anthony Joshua.

Don’t forget, you can follow Frank on twitter: @FrankBuglioni

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