STRENGTH will be the main difference between British super-featherweight champion Gary Buckland and challenger Stephen Smith this weekend, says trainer Tony Borg.
Borg has already trained Lee Selby to defeat the Liverpudlian and he believes Buckland will score another a victory for Wales at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.
The stakes are high as this is Buckland’s third defence and victory would earn him the prestigious British belt for keeps.
“This gets him the Lonsdale belt outright and moves him onto a European shot or even a world shot, so Smith winning would put a big spanner in the works. It’s a must win,” Borg said.
“Smith will be fast and sharp but I can’t see him being able to cope with Gary’s strength for that amount of rounds.
“Gary is a very tough man and he’s always in tremendous shape and if it takes 12 rounds to win then he’ll make sure he still comes out on top.
“I think if it goes the distance Smith will be marked up and damaged, but if he tries to fight early then Gary will find an exit for him within eight rounds”.
Before a fight of this magnitude, trainers will always spend some time getting to know an opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. But Borg admits that he’s been casting a watchful eye over Smith’s progress for some time.
He said: “I’ve known Stephen for years, since he was a kid in the junior ABAs and from when he was in the GB squad. I was there in Australia when he won his Commonwealth gold so I know him and his family and they’re all good kids.
“Stephen is as good as any of his brothers and one of the best in country, but I think Gary is an exceptional talent and I think he’ll be one step ahead.”
Buckland v Smith is the chief supporting contest to Nathan Cleverly’s WBO light-heavyweight title clash with big punching Russian Sergey Kovalev. It will be televised live on the specialist network BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546).