By Nick Halling
Former British light middleweight champion Brian Rose will stand on the threshold of a shot at the world title if he beats Javier Maciel on the Kell Brook-Vyacheslaw Senchenko undercard in Sheffield on October 26th. Victory would see him lined up to face the winner of next month’s clash for the vacant belt between Demetrius Andrade and Vanes Martirosyan.
After a difficult few months of struggling with lower back spasms, it’s a challenge Rose says he is ready for. “Camp has been going really well,” he said. “I’ve been doing stuff in the gym that I haven’t been able to do in the last year. It’s made me realise that my back has been a lot worse than I realised.”
Rose’s problems began during preparations for his British title defence against Sam Webb last December, and continued for his April clash with former world champion Joachim Alcine. However, against Aleksey Ribchev in June, the back broke down completely, going into spasm early in their 10-rounder.
“The back had affected my training, because I was holding things back, but it had never gone in a fight before,” said Rose. “That’s why you saw me just plodding around, being safe, winning the fight behind my jab. I just had to get through it.”
“I was wondering what was going on, because he just wouldn’t let his punches go, he was so worried about his back,” said Rose’s trainer, Bobby Rimmer. “And because he didn’t tell me how bad it was, I was in the dark about it. Afterwards, in the dressing room, he had to lie down for 15 minutes before he could get up, the back was so bad.”
That was when Rimmer decided something needed to be done. Rose was packed off for an MRI scan, leaving boxer and trainer anxious about the results. “It had become such a recurring issue that I feared it was going to be a big problem,” Rimmer admitted. “But basically, it was good news. Whenever he got a twinge in his lower back, the muscles were just going into spasm.”
With surgery thankfully not required, Rimmer hired the services of veteran boxing physio Stuart Cosgrove, who lists Ricky Hatton amongst his clientele, and Cosgrove has worked his magic once more. “It’s 100 percent sorted,” said Rimmer. “The back will not be on Brian’s mind any more. We’ve had a full camp without a single problem, and I’m very confident about the fight now. Brian Rose at his best is better than Maciel at his best, so its now up to me to make sure I bring out the best of Brian on the night.”
With the back restored to full health, Rose is confident he can overcome the challenge of the Argentinian. “It’s hard to know how good he is, because when he stepped up against (Dmitry) Pirog, he got beat. All we know for sure is that he keeps knocking out the guys they put in front of him, and you cant do any more than that. But while I’m not taking him lightly, I’m very confident.”
Lee Purdy says he will have no trouble making weight for his European welterweight title fight against Leonard Bundu in December. Purdy was over the limit for a contest against Cosme Rivera in March, then failed to make weight by a few ounces for his unexpected world title challenge against IBF boss Devon Alexander in Atlantic City in May.
Some had expressed doubts that Purdy would make welter comfortably again, but the Colchester man insists weight will not be an issue. “After the Rivera fight, I had to make a few changes to my team,” he said. “We brought in a diet specialist, Mike Jones, and he’s been great for me.
“Unfortunately, he only had four weeks to work with me for Alexander, and that just wasn’t enough. I’d been out of the gym, I’d not been well, but it was such a good opportunity we couldn’t turn it down. If Mike had been given six weeks with me, everything would have been fine. In fact, I honestly think that with a full camp, I would beat Devon Alexander.”
A disappointing 12 months looks set to end on a high for Purdy, although the Italy-based African is no fool, having defended his title four times. However, all his title fights have been in his adopted country: now he will have to travel to London, where a highly-motivated challenger will be waiting for him.
“I’m hungrier than ever, and ready to put some wrongs right,” said Purdy. “He’s an aggressive, come-forward type, like me. So it will definitely be exciting for the fans.”
After a nightmare 2013, former British super featherweight champion Gary Buckland is back in training, and will be back out on a show in Gloucester next month against an opponent yet to be named.
The Welshman has had a year he’d sooner forget. In April, he travelled to Buenos Aires in Argentina to box for the WBC Silver title, only for that fight to be scrapped on the way to the ring because of crowd trouble. Then came defeat in a defence of his domestic belt, when Stephen Smith detonated a near-perfect uppercut to leave Buckland unconscious in the fifth, a punch which will almost certainly earn Smith domestic Knockout of the Year honours.
Buckland was sent away for a family holiday by his shrewd trainer, Tony Borg, following the Smith defeat. When he came back, Borg promptly sent him off for another break.
Borg has also shed light on the chaos in Argentina, where Buckland was on the supporting bill for Sergio Martinez’s defence against Martin Murray, with the WBC Silver title up for grabs. “They gave us a police escort from the hotel to the venue, which I thought was strange,” he said. “And when we got there it was chaos. First we were number three on the bill, then it was four or five. I saw the bout sheet, and it had us down for 10 rounds, and we’d trained for 12. But then we were told that rain was expected, so they might bring it downto eight. And they’d still make it for the title!
“But when we came out, there were literally hundreds of fans in the ring. You couldn’t even see the ring. Then the ropes went, and the boards gave way, and the whole ring collapsed. We couldn’t believe it. We’d gone half way round the world, studied the opponent for weeks, worked on our tactics, and it all went up before our eyes. It was devastating for Gary.”
Borg admits that the fallout from that night in Argentina could have had some effect on Buckland’s mental state for the Smith fight, but readily admits that the punch which Smith landed was simply outstanding.
But he also expects Buckland to return with batteries fully recharged. “He’s back in the gym, fully focussed and keeping his head down,” said Borg. “He’s a quiet person, and doesn’t say a lot, but I know he wants to win that Lonsdale belt for keeps. He’s seen (stablemate) Lee Selby do it, and he’s determined to have one himself. Its what he wants more than anything.”
Nick Halling is a commentator for Sky Sports