Frank Buglioni gets an unexpected world title shot this Saturday night when he faces Fedor Chudinov for the Russian's WBA title. BoxNation broadcasts and Frank Warren promotes.
Warren, who has been struggling in recent years, has really produced a bit of magic to get Buglioni this opportunity. Despite having not fought for a domestic title, and only just making the top ten ranked super-middleweights in Britain, Buglioni has been handed the chance of a lifetime by what can only be some David Blaine-esque mind trick from Warren. Only when the WBA hears 'and wake' will they realise that they've actually sanctioned this bout for a world title.
Putting boxing politics to one side, you can't fault Buglioni for ambition. He could've easily won a Commonwealth title and milked it for a year or two, which he's certainly got the fan-base to make a lot of money from doing so. The fact he's willing to go in against one of the best fighters in the division without having the required career preparation speaks volumes about his character and mentality. Some would say it's a daft idea or that it's a 'cashing out' fight, most likely it's Buglioni knowing that this may be his only chance at a world title and he's got the cojones to give it his best.
Chudinov looks like a top class fighter, he's blown away most of his opponents and has yet to be truly tested. He won the title last time out by beating Felix Sturm via a split decision, although in truth, he won that fight with ease and the judge that gave it to Sturm by four points needs to pay a visit to his nearest opticians.
Whilst he wasn't as devastating as he had been in previous fights, Chudinov showed great poise and patience in beating Sturm, who never really found a way into the fight. Chudinov used his usual quick cluster of punches to deter Sturm and landed a few heavy looking hooks to the body that seemed to dissuade Sturm from ever mounting a serious threat.
The only criticism that could be levelled at Chudinov is that he seemed to run out of ideas and settle for the points victory late on against Sturm when he might have been able to produce a stronger finish that could've brought about a stoppage. Although, in fairness, Sturm has only been stopped the once in forty-odd fights and perhaps Chudinov decided that he'd rather not take the risk and coast his way to a comprehensive points victory.
That fight was a complete contrast to how Chudinov won the interim title. He was expected to win the fight easily enough but the way he decimated Ben McCulloch inside two rounds was impressive. McCulloch was considered a dangerous puncher going into the fight and it was thought that Chudinov would try to bide his time before turning up the pace. Instead Chudinov showed no respect for McCuloch's power and produced a brutal display of his own punch power, finishing the fight with a sledgehammer right hook that took McCulloch off his feet and left him face down on the canvas.
With ten early finishes in thirteen fights it's clear that Chudinov possesses significant punch power, so much so that his technical ability is sometimes overlooked. He was a stellar amateur and has exceptional fundamentals - nice footwork, lovely balance, solid defence and good shot repertoire, there aren't many obvious weaknesses.
The only noticeable problem for Chudinov is his lack of head movement, he can be somewhat stiff from the waist upwards, which is a problem Buglioni also has. The Englishman carries respectable power in both hands, is a fit and strong boxer and has a fan friendly style. The downsides are the lack of head movement, a poor defence and not having the best chin around - although he isn't what you'd call chinny.
Buglioni's defence has looked to be better in his past couple of bouts but you don't have to look too far back to see there's a serious weakness there. He was caught repeatedly and shallumped in six rounds by Sergey Khomitsky just over a year ago, and was caught repeatedly and out-boxed by Lee Markham earlier this year in a fight he was lucky to get a draw from. If he's to stand a chance on Saturday night he's got to get his defence perfect, otherwise he's going to be on the end of a bad beating.
One benefit Buglioni does have over Chudinov is his reach, if he can keep the fight at long range and use his jab to its maximum potential then he may cause the champion problems. Chudinov must also be respectful of Buglioni's power, his hooks are dangerous and aren't the kind of punches an opponent wants to take too many of.
Most people are tipping Chudinov to walk through Buglioni inside a couple of rounds, and whilst this is a likely outcome, I don't believe Buglioni will go down without a fight. Chudinov will get the win there's no doubt in my mind about that, and it will come inside the distance, but I believe Buglioni will keep his defence tight enough early on for the fight to go past the fourth.
At some point Chudinov is going to land a hurtful punch and that's when I feel Buglioni will lose the fight. I can see his competitive fighting instinct coming out and him going toe-to-toe with the champion, which isn't going to end well and will most likely result in Buglioni getting taken out when trying to fight fire with fire. It should be entertaining whilst it lasts though.
The undercard isn't outstanding but has a couple of good fights and enough depth to keep fans interested. The pick is the British title fight between Ryan Walsh and Samir Mouneimne. Both are industrious combatants who will without doubt produce a good spectacle. Walsh is the pick to win a close points decision, he seems to be the more rounded fighter and should be able to out-man Mouneimne late on to edge the bout.
The other title bout on the bill sees Lewis Pettitt face Bobby Jenkinson for the vacant Commonwealth belt. It might not be the most thrilling of contests but is even enough to make it an interesting affair. Pettitt is the favourite but it could go either way.
The rest of the undercard sees appearances from Dereck Chisora, Bradley Skeete, Ahmet Patterson, Romeo Romaeo (who is a bit of a character) and Gary Corcoran, who puts his unbeaten record on the line against fellow unbeaten fighter Rick Skelton.