The Lord Lonsdale Challenge Belt is boxing’s oldest championship honour and is awarded to fighters who win the British title. Great pugilists such as Henry Cooper, Lennox Lewis, Carl Froch and Kell Brook have all won it in their own respected weight classes. On December 10th, Enfield’s Frank Buglioni attempts to join the list of esteemed champions when he challenges for the light heavyweight (12 stone 7 pounds) version against current incumbent Hosea Burton in Manchester.
A lot has been expected from the personable Buglioni ever since he laced up the gloves. The university educated North Londoner, whose Italian heritage has earnt him the ring moniker ‘Wise Guy’ has boxed all around the world as an amateur and fought for a version of the world title. His record as a professional currently stands at 18 wins, 2 losses and 1 draw from 21 outings.
Boxing was not always Buglioni’s sport of choice as a youngster though, with football being his preference. In fact, the decision to join Cheshunt Amateur Boxing Club at the age of 12 was purely to enhance his fitness. However, under his coach Tony Taylor, Buglioni admits to “falling in love with boxing.” He recounts how things went from strength to strength thereafter.
“A year after Cheshunt I started taking things more seriously and joined Waltham Forest in Chingford. I had a few fights there before moving to Repton where I won the NABCs (National Amateur Boxing Championships), boxed for England and was selected for the Great Britain squad. In total I had around 70 amateur fights.”
Buglioni looked destined to make the Great Britain squad for the London 2012 Olympic Games before a bout of typhoid contracted in India scuppered his hopes. Despite this setback, the overall schooling in the unpaid ranks has given him the confidence that he will manage the pressure of fighting in his opponent’s backyard for the Lonsdale Belt. Buglioni cites how competing abroad in India, France, Denmark, Norway and Italy will make Manchester “feel like home.”
A win on December 10th would also reaffirm Buglioni’s move up in fighting weight (from the 12 stone super middleweight limit), and perhaps more significantly justify the decision to leave his Irish training base for one closer to home. Buglioni admits his time under boxing legend Steve Collins was “an unbelievable experience” but “not sustainable or cost effective” in the rebuilding stage following his first professional loss. He is also aware that training with new coach Don Charles in North London will be judged on results, but reiterates with a steely determination to being “in a good place” mentally following the move.
Perhaps the added glint of confidence in Buglioni’s eyes comes from the fact he has seen Hosea Burton and all “his training ethics first hand” at the Great Britain amateur trials. The pair boxed off against each other at middleweight for a place on the elite squad, with Buglioni winning and claiming to have “punched him from pillar to post.”
Even though boxing is littered with stories of such hearsay, there’s an underlying belief which Buglioni exudes when breaking down the pairs upcoming contest.
“He’s got my respect. I am treating him like a world champion but I don’t see him lasting. It’s going to come by way of knockout. Whether I knock him out cold or he retires will be down to his heart. I predict it will be inside 8 rounds.”
Whatever the manner of victory, there is certainly no one in the Buglioni camp who would complain so long as the result goes their way. The team and fighter know full well that “both will get hurt in there,” with defeat being an unthinkable option given “everything that has gone on” both in and out of the ring over the years. A career best performance will probably be required on the grandest stage against Burton, who is undefeated in 18 contests.
Whilst boxing is full of characters who are braggadocios given the spotlight, it is refreshing to learn of Buglioni’s down to earth nature. He is reflective on his career highs and lows and speaks articulately about the future, acknowledging that his talents have not been fully fulfilled. December 10th will provide the perfect platform for the hungry ‘Wise Guy’ to kick start his career and realise the dream of becoming British champion.
By Neel Khagram
28th November 2016
Frank Buglioni talks to me exclusively ahead of his British Title showdown against Hosea Burton on December 10th