GARY BUCKLAND admits his clash with Liverpool’s Stephen Smith is one he cannot afford to lose.
The popular Welshman defends his British super-featherweight crown on the undercard of Nathan Cleverly’s world title clash with Sergey Kovalev at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff on August 17.
Victory would earn him the prestigious Lonsdale belt for keeps and push him towards a European title tilt, while a defeat would mean having to rebuild from scratch.
“I’ve seen what happened to Gary Sykes’ career when I beat him for the title,” Buckland, 27-2 (9 KOs), said.
“He only needed to win to get the belt outright, but because I beat him, it put his career back more than two years. I don’t want that to happen to me.
“At the age of 27 I need to move forward with my career so I can’t afford to lose this fight.
“I’ve been told that I’m now the mandatory challenger for the European title, so I have to make sure I perform, get past Stephen Smith and move on to bigger things.”
Despite Cleverly being undoubtedly the star of the show, August 17 will feel like something of a homecoming for Buckland.
He is a proud Cardiff-native, but in a professional career spanning more than eight years this will be the first time he has boxed in his home city.
“It’s a big thing to be back in my own town,” he said. “I’ve not boxed in Cardiff before so that’s a bonus to get the opportunity to win the British title outright here.
“It’ll also be good to put on a show on for the fans. I’ve had to box away from home a lot, going up to Sheffield, Stoke and Manchester, which I don’t mind, but I’ve always wanted to box in Cardiff and now I’ve got my chance so I need to deliver”.