Mark Tibbs Discusses Rising Career of Frank Buglioni
Rising super-middle hope Frank Buglioni continues to destroy all put before him.
Arguably the biggest ticket seller in the country, the former England amateur rep from Winchmore Hill, north London has polished off 11 consecutive pro opponents thus far, with eight victims requiring rescue long before the final bell.
Hugely marketable beyond the ropes, the handsome Westminster University undergraduate is on the cusp of evolving into a huge star and 2014 could be his breakout year.
This Saturday he opens the defence of the WBO European title he won so impressively in November, when he collides with former Italian champion Gaetano Nespro over 10 rounds at the Copper Box Arena in Hackney Wick, east London.
The show will be televised live and exclusive in the UK on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546). Join at www.boxnation.com
Remaining tickets for Rock The Box III, priced from £40 are available from Eventim on 0844 249 1000 or online at www.eventim.co.uk
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In search of the inside track on what makes Buglioni the hottest rising commodity in the capital's vibrant fight scene, boxing writer Glynn Evans spoke at length with ex pro Mark Tibbs who has coached the 24 year old for his entire pro career.
Here, in his own words, is Mark's detailed assessment.
"I first became aware of Frank Buglioni when, through my work in acting, I took a casting agent down to the Repton amateur boxing gym, to find him some young teenage fighters for a Michael Caine film they were making over Dagenham way. Frank might have been 17 or 18 and I remember him was a real shy, modest kid. They ended up giving the job to (stable mate) Tom Baker!
Some time later, I went to the London ABAs to study Freddie Turner but ended up noticing Frank and thinking he'd provide tough, strong sparring for Billy Joe Saunders. I spoke with Frank's amateur trainer, Mr Wilkes, and it was sorted.
That night, I worked Frank's corner, Dad worked Bill's. Despite his youth, Frank showed himself to be very strong and solid, plus you could see he was a natural puncher. Whatever instructions I issued, he delivered. He was only amateur but still did about 13 rounds and just wouldn't break. That showed me he could be moulded and had heart.
I rewarded him for the spar with a couple of pad sessions, then his dad booked him a few private sessions with me. When they decided to turn pro, the Buglionis said they'd like me to train Frank. I was delighted. After working under my Dad, it was my own little project. Frank became my protégé.
From the start, Frank struck me as a very decent young man, an intelligent human being. His mum and dad are fabulous people who've done a great job bringing him up. They're very supportive but they also know when to back off.
He's a joy to be involved with; a consummate professional. He lives the right life of a fighter. Sure, he made mistakes very early in his career, and he's learned a few pitfalls the hard way. But he listens and learns. Seldom makes the same mistake twice.
Straight away, I knew I'd need to add a bit of flavour, a bit more variety, and teach him to box more off the back foot. That way he could kid people in and walk them on to his natural power. He's naturally a nice character so I also needed to add some spite, that vicious element. But I sensed he had the potential of being anything he wanted to be if he put his mind to it.
I gradually started to take him around other gyms for sparring and, when other, elder trainers crossed the line, Frank would calmly put them in their place. The way he carried himself was way above his years. He always seems to know the right thing to say, and the right time to say it; very measured. He's not even started his career yet but when he's done, there's no question he could move into the TV world.
Thankfully sponsorships and stuff have recently enabled Frank to pack up his job as a surveyor and focus on the boxing full-time. That's a huge plus. I wish all my other fighters could.
During his two and a bit years as a pro, Frank's improved in every area and at exactly the right pace. He's gained strength through sparring, he's vastly increased the variety of his shots and he now has real confidence in himself. On the rare occasions he's had a bad day at the gym, he regroups and makes up in no time. He always gets his revenge with a bit of interest at a later date.
I used to be treading on egg shells when I'd send him to spar the likes of George Groves. Not now. Others who used to give him a decent spar, he's now just blowing away. And, trust me, there's only us in the gym that have seen the best of him. The better he faces, the better he'll perform, you'll see.
Either in the gym or in his fights, Frank has shown me every ingredient needed to succeed at the very top championship level. He's got bags of heart, can really 'dig in' when it gets hard and, trust me, he's got a bloody good chin. He's sparred the likes of Carl Froch, Groves, Martin Murray, Nick Blackwell and loads of big cruiserweight bangers. He's brutally honest and tells me when he's been tagged hard but you'd never notice it. He never shows out.
I've seen all I need to see from him. All that's required now is 12 months experience. You can't buy that and it'd be boring if you could. It's about being patient now and Frank himself knows that. He's got a very good network of people around him. It's not just me and him. In Frank Warren, he has the best manager around and BoxNation are also right behind him. Plus there's his family, a very solid unit. And the great thing is, he listens to the right people. He's destined to go a very long way.
Last fight, when he stopped Stepan Horvath in eight rounds to win the WBO European title, moved Frank up to another level. Horvath (11-1) was a very capable fighter, very cagey and, at 31, a mature man.
Initially, I sent Frank out to clip his whiskers for the TV cameras. When that didn't happen after four or five rounds, there was a danger that it might become monotonous. So we instructed Frank to start digging the body. Shortly after, sure enough, he put the kid away. He showed good patience and still gave his crowd the kayo they came for. I was impressed.
Frank's a very good looking and articulate boy, very marketable and it's no secret he's done his share of photo shoots and modelling. He's got a commercial agent which is all well and good but I will not allow external distractions to get in the way of his training. And you know what? Neither will Frank himself.
He fully appreciates they have to be sidelines, never his number one priority. All that can wait for later, not at this crucial stage of his development. I don't want to be committing my time to a 'celebrity fighter'. I've had to pull certain people aside and firmly explain that if Frank doesn't deliver in the ring, he's nothing. Conversely, if Frank makes it in boxing, he's going to make it big in life.
Because of Frank's media profile and the huge volume of tickets he shifts, sometimes you feel pressure to rush him into major title fights before we're ready. But, trust me, we won't be bullied. Never, never, never!
I guarantee we'll do it to our timescale, on our terms. I've got the experience from my own fighting career as a young man and I'll back my instincts. I've learnt the pitfalls and get pleasure helping today's youngsters avoid them.
In preparation for this Saturday's fight, I got Frank into the gym a few weeks earlier to get him stacks of sparring against all different styles and heavier weights. When he first turned pro, he really struggled to turn the power down but now he's able to play in spars; slip 'n' slide when needed, but still put 'em in their place when that's necessary. There's a very fine line between pushing prospects too hard and wrapping them in cotton wool. But he's now sparring champion level fighters and he never, ever falls apart.
When he defends his title on Saturday night, I'll be looking for Frank to be nice and loose but compact. I want him to establish a nice solid jab to find his range then go straight to work. I need him to be first on the counter and first when he gets inside; no messing about, up and down.
I've seen a far bit of this Italian on tape and, at 34, he's a real man who'll certainly come and have a fight. He's got a lot of pride and we're certainly not taking him lightly. But I expect Frank to dissect him, take him apart in a controlled manner. If he impresses, it won't be long before we're looking at domestic titles.
Ultimately, if he continues to apply himself as he is, Frank Buglioni can become whatever he wants to be. Since the age of six, I've grown up in the best gyms, surrounded by the great champions my dad was involved in – world class guys like John H Stracey, Maurice Hope, Charlie Magri, Mark Kaylor and Frank Bruno – so I know what ingredients it takes to become world champion. Frank Buglioni has all of them. The world is his oyster."