Gary Buckland goes for glory
BRITISH super-featherweight champion Gary Buckland is aiming to make it a stellar night for Welsh boxing as he faces challenger Stephen Smith on the undercard of Nathan Cleverly’s world title defence tonight.
Swansea’s Enzo Maccarinelli is also on the bill as he looks for revenge against Commonwealth light-heavyweight champion Ovill McKenzie.
And St Joseph’s ace Buckland believes that the home trio will all be celebrating at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena tonight.
“I’m feeling good and I’m ready to go. It should be a great night of boxing in Wales,” said the 27-year-old champion who trains with Tony Borg at St Joes in Newport.
“We’ve got three great fights with Cleverly, Enzo Maccarinelli and me in action and I’m just looking forward to getting in the ring now.”
Buckland makes his third defence of the British title and he will win the Londsale belt outright with victory before looking to move on to the European title.
But he knows that Liverpool’s Smith, whose only defeat as a pro came against Buckland’s stablemate Lee Selby, will be no pushover.
“Smith is a tough fighter,” he said. “I’m not underestimating him at all. It will be one of my biggest tests so far and I’m going to have to be at my best to beat him.
“I’m the number one mandatory challenger for the European now so hopefully that will be next for me but I’m not looking beyond Smith yet. I need to get past him first.”
Buckland is hoping to have a much better night than the last time he was due to fight – in Argentina in April.
He travelled 7,000 miles to Buenos Aires to take on Argentine Fernando David Saucedo for the WBC international silver belt and a win would have put him in line for a crack at the world title.
But the bout was called off at the last minute when hundreds of fight fans poured into the ring following Sergio Martinez’s victory over Britain’s Martin Murray in their world title showdown.
The ring was damaged beyond repair and organisers were left with no option but to cancel Buckland’s fight, rendering his trip and months of training pointless.
“It’s been a tough year but I want put that behind me now and hopefully make up for it with this fight,” said Buckland.
“It is the first time I’ve fought in Cardiff and it should be awesome with a big crowd all there to cheer on me, Enzo and Nathan.
“I never say which way it’s going to go. I’m going for the win and that will do me, it doesn’t matter how it comes.”
Also on the bill are Blackwood brother Craig and Rhys Evans and Welsh favourites Aled Cook and Lewis Rees.