Gary Buckland says a move up to Lightweight will bring the best out of him as he faces Gavin Rees in a British title eliminator on Saturday night (February 1) at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, live on Sky Sports.
Buckland is back in action for the first time since August when he had the chance to win the Lonsdale belt outright in his British Super Featherweight title defence against Stephen Smith at the same venue. Smith stunned Buckland by uncorking a devilish uppercut to end their contest in the fifth round and the Welshman is honest in his assessment of that defeat whilst insisting he’ll be a major force up at Lightweight.
“I don’t want to make excuses about the Stephen Smith fight, I lost fair and square,” said Buckland. “The only thing I can put it down to was other things going on in my life during my training camp. I was distracted big time and that showed in the fight.
“A win over Gavin would get be back to British title level. I thought I would be on some small hall shows, which I would struggle to get up for. So when I was offered Gavin Rees I thought ‘what a fight to get me back up’. If I beat Gavin I will be back in with a shot at a big title.
“At Lightweight I will be a bit stronger but I am happy to box at either weight, whatever my options. After Saturday’s fight we will sit down and look at the options but I’ll be a different beast at the higher weight.
“A fighter doesn’t know what he has left until he’s in there again. I know I made mistakes before Smith, I know there were things on my mind, for this fight I’ve worked very hard for five weeks and done everything right this time.
“In all my defeats I’ve come back stronger than ever and I’m hoping this will be the same starting with the Rees fight.”
Rees too endured a disappointing 2013, with a World title challenge defeat against Adrien Broner in February followed by a slender loss to Anthony Crolla in Bolton in July. The 33 year old still harbours strong ambitions to become a two-weight World champion with some big domestic battles on the horizon, and although Rees admitted that defeat on Saturday could spell the end of his career Buckland is expecting a hard battle with his fellow countryman.
“This will be a really tough fight,” said Buckland. “Gavin Rees is one of the strongest opponents I have ever faced. I wouldn’t say the strongest but certainly one of – he is up there with Gary Sykes, Stephen Smith, so I will need to be careful.
“You have to be careful whichever boxer you get in with and when I was offered Gavin Rees it was the sort of fight I can easily get up for.
“I am expecting the best of Gavin Rees. Everybody wants to see a toe-to-toe war between me and him but I expect he will box well as well. The two of us can do a bit of boxing and I think that is going to happen.
“I think the Crolla fight was one Gavin probably thought he was winning but I certainly didn’t think so – I thought Crolla was a couple of rounds up.
“When you look at it you question does he need to carry on – he is a former World, European, British champion, he has won everything. But he seems to keep doing well and carrying on so you have to give him great credit for that.”
Rees’ mouth-watering clash with Buckland is part of a great line-up of action in Matchroom Sport’s first boxing show of 2014.
Lee Selby is aiming to add the vacant European Featherweight title to the British belt he defends against former World Super Bantamweight challenger Rendall Munroe.
Olympic Gold medal hero Anthony Joshua MBE fights for the fourth time in the paid ranks against Aberdare’s Dorian Darch, Jason Cook meets Tony Pace for the Welsh Area Light Welterweight title, and Prizefighter Light Welterweight champion Chris Jenkins faces Christopher Sebire for the vacant WBC International title.
Former European Middleweight champion Kerry Hope is in action and Islington’s former British Light Middleweight title challenger Erick Ochieng faces a tough test in his first fight down at Welterweight against Dale Evans.
Swansea’s talented Super Middleweight Tobias Webb tackles Nathan King in a six-round contest, with Bristol’s unbeaten Welterweight Tamuka Mucha in his seventh pro fight.
Tickets are on sale now priced at £30, £40 and £60 ringside available from www.livenation.co.uk or by calling 02920 22 44 88, or from Sanigar Events on 0117 949 6699.
VIP Packages priced £120 are available from www.matchroomboxing.com or by calling 01277 359900.
Rising Liverpool bantamweight prospect Ryan Farrag faces the biggest test of his career when he takes on former British Champion Jason Booth at Aintree Racecourse on Saturday 8th March.
Farrag has targeted a title challenge by the end of the year and needs to beat the battle-hardened Booth to prove that he is ready to step up to championship level. He’ll meet the Nottingham fighter over six-rounds on the undercard of Paul Butler’s WBO/WBA Intercontinental Super-Flyweight title defence, live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546).
The 25-year-old’s slick boxing skills have taken him to 10 wins from 11 fights with his sole loss coming against current British Champion Lee Haskins on points in the Prizefighter tournament.
Booth is still one of the top operators in the 118lb domestic division after almost 20 years as a pro. In 49 fights he’s captured British and Commonwealth titles from flyweight to super-bantamweight plus an IBO title. In that time he’s faced some of the best including Steve Molitor, Kiko Martinez and Scott Quigg. More recently he’s tackled Kid Galahad, Martin Ward and in his last fight he took Haskins the distance in a British title challenge.
“Booth has been in the game a long time, he’s experienced and it’s a real step up for me, it’s a battle of youth and aggression against age and experience,” Said Farrag.
“I’ve not had the chance to show what level I’m at before, but this fight will bring the best out in me. Booth is a quality operator, he’s seen it and done it at a high level. For me this is an ideal fight that will get me great exposure with a win and should put me in line for a title,”
“It’s a tall order to stop someone like Booth, I’ve just got to work my skills, outbox and outclass him. I’m younger, fitter and fresher than he is, let’s see if he can match the work-rate I’ll set,”
“I’ve got my targets set on winning a title by the end of the year and Booth is the first hurdle I have to get past.”
The Aintree Racecourse show is headlined by Ellesmere Port star Paul Butler defending his WBO/WBA Super-Flyweight title against Diego Liriana, and Liverpool’s Commonwealth Flyweight Champion Kevin Satchell defending his title against Issac Quaye. A talent-packed undercard features Ronnie Heffron v John Thain, Terry Flanagan, Thomas Stalker, Ryan Farrag, Jazza Dickens, Matty Fagan and Stephen Lewis.
Tickets, from £40, are available from Eventim on 0844 842 5005 or www.eventim.co.uk
Watch live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546). Join at www.boxnation.com
LITTLE RETURNS TO ACTION IN BLACKPOOL
WELTERWEIGHT prospect Adam Little will make his long-awaited return to the ring at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool on March 29.
The Ricky Hatton-trained stylist, 22, has been out of action since October 2012 because of a persistent hand injury.
But after undergoing surgery, he's feeling fighting fit and keen to make a big statement.
"I'm looking forward to being back finally and leaving all the injuries and problems behind so I can start looking to the future," Adam, 8 – 0 (2 KOs), said.
"No matter who I fight, or whatever happens, people are definitely going to see a different side to me on the 29th of March. People are going to stand up and appreciate what I can do.
"The injury has given me a different mindset in terms of what I want to do and what I want out of life. I fully expect to be 100 per cent on fight night and people are going to be surprised."
After such a lengthy period on the sidelines, it would be natural for Little to ease back into things against less than formidable opposition.
However, he's keen to get back into the domestic mix at 10st 7lbs and only wants to face people who will test both his skills and his resolve.
He said: "There's no point fighting journeymen. I've come back from braking my hand on journeymen's heads and elbows so I might as well go in there against people who are going to hit me back, people who are going to give me a fight.
"Journeymen just tuck up and survive. They don't make me look particularly good and fans don't want to watch those kinds of fights. I want to fight opponents who are as good as me or have the potential to be, so I can show people what I can do."
The Blackpool bill is headlined by Matty Askin's English cruiserweight title defence against Crayford's Menay Edwards and is being staged jointly by Hatton Promotions and Steve Wood's VIP Promotions.
Tickets priced at £30 General Admission and £60 Ringside are on sale now at www.vipbe.co.uk or by calling 07585 771305.