Frank Warren’s Column – 25.09.15
Like the rest of the sporting world I was stunned when Japan pulled off what Sir Clive Woodward called the greatest single moment in the history of the rugby World Cup by snatching an historic and enthralling victory over mighty South Africa last weekend.
As sporting earthquakes go, it was atop the Richter Scale. This was a team which had won only one previous World Cup match in history hailing from a nation where sumo and sushi are far more familiar to the average Japanese than a scrum.
Indeed, the Land of the Rising Sun hasn’t experienced such a seismic shock in sport since tubby American heavyweight boxer James ‘Buster’ Douglas left Iron Mike Tyson scrabbling around on his knees in the ring at the Tokyo Dome 25 years ago like a drunk searching for a dropped cigarette butt on a pub floor.
Such sensations are the meat and drink, as well as the magic, of sport, and there have been numerous in boxing like the then Cassius Clay’s conquest if Sonny Liston, later, as Muhammad Ali, to be defeated by fellow Olympic champion Leon Spinks who was having only his eighth pro fight. Then, among many others there was Lloyd Honeyghan’s astonishing conquest of Don Curry.
These all confirm that sport thrives on tales of the unexpected.
Now, not for a moment am I suggesting that should Frank Buglioni overcome the unbeaten Russian Fedor Chudinov to claim the WBA world super-middleweight title on Saturday it will would be anywhere near the same league as the Japanese upset.
But we know, and he knows, that he is the underdog yet as the world has witnessed on so many occasions every underdog can have his day.
That’s one reason why I give him one hell of fighting chance.
Sometimes fairytales do come true when you work it at realising them. And Frank really has, even using the same sports psychologist his tutor Steve Collins employed ahead of his fight with Chris Eubank 20 years ago.
It worked for the Irish legend. Let’s hope it does for Frank. Sometimes in boxing it is as much in the mind as it is in the fists.
What he has lacked in the past is discipline, letting his heart rule his head, and I hope and believe that Collins has instilled this vital cautionary ingredient into him. With fellow former world champion Roy Jones in the opposite corner, mentoring Chudinov, this is going to be as much a battle of tactics as skill and big punching, as intriguing as it is potentially exciting.
Who has improved who the most? I know it was a short-notice opponent, but in Buglioni’s last fight I saw that he did go out there and stuck to his game plan, doing what he was told to do by his corner. Hopefully it will be the same on his big night.
Of course, it is not just following instructions, but improvising when things happen, often when you least expect it. In some ways I liken this fight for Buglioni to what Frank Bruno had to do when he won the world heavyweight title from Oliver McCall. He needs to have the same sort of controlled mindset Frank sensibly encompassed on that memorable September night at in 1995.
Buglioni is sounding more confident than I have ever known him to be. Chudinov, 28, whose younger brother Dmitry lost at Wembley to Chris Eubank Jnr, has an impeccable amateur and pro record, culminating in that impressive split decision victory over home favourite Felix Sturm in Germany in only his 13th pro contest.
But good as he is, he does not seem to fight that well inside so what Buglioni needs to do is jab his way inside, do his work and then with his longer reach keep out of distance and not get in range or involved in a punch-up. Also he can bang, which is something else in his favour.
I also hope he becomes champion for another reason. He’s a decent, respectable young man with a brilliant image and it will be good for boxing to see someone of his character as a world champion, someone for kids to look up to, particularly if they are from a similar background, fairly well to do and with a good education.
The fight game is no longer the preserve of those who have to use their fists in the ring to climb out from poorer backgrounds. It is now an attractive sport for every aspiring youngster whether their collars are white or blue.
It would also show that boxing can be about someone who was born to be a fighter. Enfield’s Frank could have carved out a good career as a quantity surveyor, but boxing has always been his great passion.
What if boils down to is that if he ensures he isn’t caught off guard early on like George Groves, boxes calmly and intelligently, keeps his head and stays out of trouble, the title and status he cherishes can be his.
Moreover the deafening support of his huge army of his faithful followers could intimidate Chudinov and perhaps even sway the judges in a tight finish should it go the distance.
I do not know what the psychologist has told him but as the estimable Clive Woodward, arguably the greatest sports motivator of them all, said after Japan’s stunning triumph:”Underdogs can become world beaters if you truly believe.”
Hope you are listening, Wise Guy.
As the late, great boxing commentator Harry Carpenter once famously urged Bruno: “Get in there, Frank!”
Get well soon, Frank
Talking of Frank Bruno, like everyone in boxing I am saddened that he is back in hospital having treatment after apparently struggling with a severe bout of depression for several weeks.
It is such a shame that one of Britain’s best-loved sporting icons, who suffers from bi-polar disorder, should again be experiencing these mental issues.
I’ve always felt that it has not been to do with the actual boxing, but some of the things surrounding it, such as when Lennox Lewis and then Oliver McCall called him an Uncle Tom. I think that shattered him. It really affected him and maybe he has never really got over it.
Joe Frazier hated Muhammad Ali after he called him an Uncle Tom and he never forgave him.
Then when Bruno finished boxing on his own admission he started puffing that stuff and messing around with drugs.
I don’t agree with all these people who say that marijuana should be made legal, because it clearly does affect you. The strong gear is such a psychotic drug and it could well be that this has contributed to the breakdowns he has suffered as a bi-polar victim.
The recent BoxNation programme in our popular “A Fight to Remember” series which centered on Frank’s world title victory over McCall was a poignant reminder of not only his ability but the affection in which he was held-and still is.
For the third time since he quit boxing he obviously is struggling to cope, but the good thing is that he has great support around him, particularly from his family, and I am sure he will get his mind right and be back on track again soon.
After Thursday’s head-to-head press conference between Fedor Chudinov and Frank Buglioni along with boxing greats Roy Jones Jnr and Steve Collins, it was a real honour to meet with football’s living legend, Pele.
In celebration of his 75th birthday and his lifetime achievement, the Halcyon Gallery held a private opening of a unique exhibition displaying incredible paintings and sculptures from several leading contemporary artists.
It’s a fantastic exhibition and open to the public from 26 September to 18 October.
King Mitch, simply the best
Congratulations to our great prospect Mitchell Smith on being named Best Young Boxer of the Year by the Boxing Writers’ Club. He deserves it as one of the sport’s fastest-rising and most exciting stars.
The fight scribes rarely pick a dud ‘un in their annual poll. Indeed, 23 of their selections have gone on to become world champions, including Randolph Turpin,Terry Downes, Howard Winstone, Ken Buchanan, John Conteh, John H Stracey, Nigel Benn, Barry McGuigan, Charlie Magri, Naseem Hamed, Amir Khan, Joe Calzaghe, Ricky Hatton and latterly Kell Brook and Scott Quigg.
I have no doubt that the 22-year-old super-featherweight from Harrow who impishly calls himself ‘King Mitch’ will be joining that illustrious band in the not-too-distant future. As, I hope, will, Billy Joe Saunders, who won the award in 2013.
I am personally delighted for Mitchell as he is the 19th fighter I have promoted to have scooped this prestigious award, which will be presented to him at the Club’s annual dinner – reckoned to be the best of all sporting bashes –at London’s Savoy Hotel on Monday October 12 in the presence of sports minister Tracey Crouch.
I look forward to his acceptance speech. He is a cheeky chappy, not short of Naz-like chutzpah, unbeaten in 13 fights including seven KOs. So far far he has acquired the Southern Area, English, WBO European and WBO Intercontinental titles.
His last three fights have ended in back-to-back knockouts inside five rounds.
Big chance for The Upsetter
Good luck to Ovill McKenzie,one of boxing’s great troupers who gets a short-notice title shot against Argentina’s IBF cruiserweight champion Victor Ramirez in Buenos Aires next Friday.
McKenzie, once known as ‘opponent’ has now emerged as a worthy contender in his own right with a sequence of wins which have earned him the nickname of ‘The Upsetter.’ In his last four fights he has won three by knockouts.
He replaces Yoan Pablo Hernandez, who was the IBF champion, but was stripped of the title due to injury, with IBF Interim Champion Ramirez installed as the full champion.
It’s a dream opportunity for the 35-year-old from Jamaica, a pro for over 15 years, a former two-time Commonwealth light-heavyweight champion and the current British, Commonwealth and WBA Continental cruiserweight Champion. He’ll head to Argentina over the weekend with his team headed by his manager Martin Bowers who has been instrumental in Ovill’s recent career resurgence.
Will The Upsetter cause another fashionable shock? Box Nation viewers can find out in an exclusive telecast on the Channel of Champions which exclusively features four British boxers in world title fights during the next month, starting with Chudinov v Buglioni on Saturday, followed by Ramirez-McKenzie on Friday and new WBO World Lightweight champion Terry Flanagan’s first defence against Diego Magdaleno and Liam Smith against John Thompson for the vacant WBO super-welterweight title on the huge double-header at the Manchester Arena on Saturday 10th October.
On top of this BoxNation have also acquired the Timothy Bradley –Brandon Rios world welterweight title scrap in Las Vegas on 7th November, a potential classic.
All this plus Miguel Cotto’s upcoming superfight with Canelo Alvarez, Lucas Matthyese against Viktor Postol and the mouthwatering clash between Gennady Golovkin and David Lemieux.
It has been some year for BoxNation- and for fight fans.