Frank Buglioni promises his huge army of fans that they’ll finally witness the rewards of his relocation to Dublin, when he collides with Grays’ warrior Lee Markham on Saturday evening. The WBO European super-middle titlist served an apprenticeship under Mark and Jimmy Tibbs at the TKO Gym in Canning Town.
However, following an amicable parting, the 26 year old quantity surveyor sought the counsel of Ireland’s former two weight world champion Steve Collins and his brother ‘Packie’, hoping they can instil the smarts required to reap major titles.
‘I felt it was the right time of my career to make a change, pick up new ideas and techniques,’ explains Buglioni, who sports a 16-1 slate, with 12 wins by stoppage.
‘Clearly my defense needed work but also I knew my natural strengths were similar to Steve Collins’ style.
‘Initially, Steve and ‘Packie’ took me back to basics; hands up, everything off the jab, the old one-two. They made sure every shot was being delivered correctly, and that my balance was right. Basically, I needed to move back before I could move on.
‘But for the last two camps, we’ve been adding extra bits, a touch of spice. In my last fight (against Croatian southpaw Ivan Jukic in February) I could really notice the improvements. Thankfully, the fight only lasted 85 seconds so my rivals didn’t get to see how I’ve developed.’
The biggest advances have taken place behind closed doors at the brothers’ ‘Celtic Warrior’ facility in the Republic’s capital city. Big hooking Frank has settled quickly to the change of environment.
‘Only proper fighters who are dedicated and respectful are allowed into the Collins’ gym. All the people there are absolutely fantastic and there’s such a good atmosphere,’ says the 6ft 1in part-time model.
‘I’ll go to Dublin six weeks before my fight. I rent a one bedroom apartment there, so I can do my own cooking and washing, live on my own time. I’d prefer that to being ‘served’ in a hotel.
‘To be honest, I have hardly any free time. I cook breakfast, have my run, do my washing and cleaning, have lunch, go the gym in the afternoon, then cook dinner.
‘In the evening, I catch up with mates on social media or put a film on. Then it’s bed. Time flies. I’ve always led a very disciplined, solitary life, even when preparing at home. But in London I was too accessible, easily distracted.’
Frank’s present title accords him a number six world ranking with the WBO but, prior to conquering the planet, ‘The Bug’ has his antennae fixed on more traditional, local belts. The British title – due to be debated by Scouse rivals Callum Smith and Rocky Fielding – plus Luke Blackledge’s Commonwealth strap are both on his radar for this year.
He says: ‘Once I get past Markham, I’ll be looking to stay active and chase other titles.
‘I don’t rate Rocky Fielding at all. He looked terrible last time out but Callum Smith and me are on a collision course.
‘We actually offered this fight to Blackledge but he turned it down. Hopefully, he’ll step up to the plate in the future. I’d like that next.’
But having been scorched before by Sergey Khomitsky of Belarus (LRSC6, April 2014), the north Londoner daren’t be distracted from the job at hand. Preparation has been faultless and he is threatening to light up Wembley by destroying Markham next weekend.
‘Camp has been spot on,’ he insists.
‘My spar mates Luke Keeler and Spike O’Sullivan have very similar styles to Markham, only they’re a lot better!
‘Gary Boulden beat Markham yet Luke knocked Boulden out inside a round which puts it all in context. And Spike’s mixed at world level.
‘They’ve been preparing me for a gruelling 12 round war. I always finish those spars well and the Markham fight is only for ten (rounds). My strength and fitness are at an all time high.
‘I’d never felt better than I did in my last fight and there’s further been further improvement since. I’m really looking forward to showing everybody what I’ve added on May 9th…..if the fight goes long enough!’