Former world super-middleweight title challenger Frank Buglioni begins his campaign as a light-heavyweight on March 26 at The SSE Arena and has British and Commonwealth titles in his sights.
The popular 26-year-old from Enfield boxed for the WBA world super-middleweight belt last September (losing on points to then-champion Fedor Chudinov), but is now making the move up in weight and set for his first 175-pound outing on the undercard of the British middleweight title clash between Nick Blackwell and Chris Eubank Jr.
“I’ve been at world level and I’ve won numerous titles,” he says. “I know I’ve got the ability to reach the top and now it’s all about establishing myself in a new weight-class.
“I got too big for super-middleweight. I know I’ll have more power, more strength and more stamina at light-heavyweight. I was coming down from fourteen stone to twelve. It will still be a bit of a struggle but I’ll be more comfortable and will have more in the tank on fight night.
“I’ll use this fight on March 26 to showcase my skills on a different platform. I’ll be looking to make a statement and start chasing domestic titles.”
Though his eventual goal is to become a world champion, Buglioni knows he must first attempt to prove himself as the best 175-pound fighter in Great Britain.
“Domestically I’m ready to go in there and do some damage,” says the former WBA international titleholder. “I boxed Hosea Burton, the current British champion, as an amateur and we had a great tear-up. I had a very good first round, he came back a bit in the second and then in the third I really pulled away. I got the better of that and I’ll be looking to do the same as a pro and become British champion.
“Bob Ajisafe holds the Commonwealth title and I’ll be looking to rip that from him as well. I really want to put a stamp on the domestic division before moving on to European and world level.”
The jump to light-heavyweight isn’t the only change Buglioni, 17-2-1 (13 KOs), has put in motion. He has also hooked up with trainer Don Charles, best-known for guiding Dereck Chisora to a shot at the world heavyweight title, and relocated to London following a stint in Ireland.
“It’s fantastic,” says Frank. “Don is very, very similar to Steve and Paschal (Collins, former trainers) and that makes the transition a lot easier. He’s a great bloke as well. There’s a very good atmosphere in the gym. It’s clean and tidy at all times.
“Everything is falling into place for me right now and I couldn’t be happier with the set up. I’m really looking forward to a great partnership.
“It’s early days but we’re working on perfecting my jab. The footwork was a good addition and worked well in the Chudinov fight, so I’ll keep that up, and I’ll also keep working on the defence. The strength and the power is there. That’s ticking along nicely. We’ve just got to tighten up everything else and keep improving every single day.”
Signs were there in September, even in defeat, that Buglioni is heading in the right direction; most expected Chudinov, the unbeaten champion, to overwhelm him and expose him on the biggest stage, but Buglioni, a heavy underdog, hung in there, hurt the Russian on occasion and more than deserved to hear the final bell.
“Every fight I go into I see myself as the winner,” he says. “I am always 100% confident my hand will be raised. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t fight.
“I went in there and knew straight away I was going to be up against it because he’s very talented. I had the edge in power – I felt I had the hurting of him – and I rocked him a few times, but his stamina and endurance was very good and he had a great sense of distance.
“I learnt a lot from him. But if he ever comes up to light-heavyweight and I get the chance to fight him again, I’d relish that opportunity. I know next time it will be a different story.
“Still, I mixed it with one of the best in the world. He should still be unbeaten; he beat (Felix) Sturm in the rematch but was robbed. He’s a great fighter and I mixed it with him for twelve rounds. I hurt him a few times. And, although he beat me, I never really felt out of my depth in there.
“It gave me a lot of confidence moving forward. It was only three-and-a-quarter years into my pro career but it did me the world of good. It didn’t take anything out of me, it just made me hungrier to succeed and made me realise I’m not far off world title level.
“With a bit more hard work and some refinements, I’ll be up there and winning world titles. I now know what it takes to become a world champion.”
*** Tickets for the British middleweight title blockbuster between Nick ‘Bang Bang’ Blackwell and Chris Eubank Jr. are priced at £35, £50, £75, £175, £200 and £250 for ringside and can be purchased online at ssearena.co.uk and axs.com or by phoning the SSE Arena, Wembley Box Office on 0844 815 0815 ***