Man vs Machine, By Ian Barnett

Man vs Machine

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Saturday night saw ‘Wise Guy’ Frank Buglioni fight for the WBA world super-middleweight title against the unbeaten Russian Fedor Chudinov . It was billed as Man vs Machine with Chudinov the big favourite.

Given Buglioni’s career to date, the chance of fighting for the title surprised many; with no real names on his list of victims and question marks about Buglioni’s ability to compete at the higher end of European level it certainly raised a few eyebrows. That said Chudinov being one of the lesser known and lesser marketable of world champions it was a chance for him to perform on British soil and a chance to potentially make some bigger fights down the line.

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The fight began with Chudinov stalking Buglioni, walking him down and not giving him any rest, Chudinov appeared happy to take sporadic shots on his way in, in order to land the cleaner and higher volume of punches. That said Buglioni did throw some eye catching combinations in the early round. In the second round Chudinov appeared to put more spite into his punches and appeared to be getting to Buglioni with ease, Buglioni was unable to keep Chudinov off and was being forced to fight at a very fast pace which didn’t seem to suit him. The warning signs were clear to see in this round and it was apparent how big an ask capturing the tile would be for the British fighter.

Rounds 3-6 continued with the same theme, Chudinov in the face of Buglioni throughout, landing some well-timed jabs and right hooks that were beginning to find the target all too often. In response Buglioni continued in cameos to land combinations that failed however to deter the Russians pursuit of the British man. Round 6 would end in dramatic and controversial style.

As the bell approached, both men opened up and an exciting toe to toe battle erupted, Buglioni landed 2 very good right hands, as the bell sounded and Chudinov dropped his hands, Buglioni detonated a right hook that landed flush on the chin of Chudinov sending him to the canvas. Chudinov rose to his feet and appeared hurt, staggering somewhat to his corner. The referee has a big call to make and decided in deducting 2 points from Buglioni much to the anger of his corner men and fans, in all honestly the punch was very late and Buglioni risked a disqualification. There were no complaints from Frank himself who insisted that he hadn’t heard the bell.

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Round 7 began with Buglioni looking to pounce on Chudinov who clearly had not fully recovered. The Russian showed his metal though in talking several flush shots and fighting back. As the round progressed Buglioni began to visibly tire and the opportunity appeared to be disappearing with every passing moment. Arguably Chudinov even took the 7th round.

Rounds 8-12 clearly belonged to the champion, round after round Buglioni was getting hit cleaner more often and tiring very quickly. Chudinov was unfazed by anything coming his way and was extending his lead in the fight by a wide margin. The final 2 rounds Buglioni certainly earned his keep, he was simply surviving on heart and pride alone, those instincts keeping him going with the final bell in sight. Round 12 ended and the bell sounded…..cheers all around from the well entertained crowd with no doubt as to the winner.

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The scores were called out and Chudinov was rightfully the unanimous winner by wide margins on all 3 cards. Chudinov showed himself to be a level, possibly 2 levels above Buglioni as many feared he would when the fight was announced. For Buglioni, he showed heart, masses of it but we already knew he never lacked in that department. The doubts about his ability at world level remain though and one would think that European level is where he will rebuild from now.

The fight was entertaining to watch, however rounds 10-12 were painful. Buglioni was being hit to easily and too often for my liking and could have been pulled out by his corner, there were no signs that Buglioni could turn the fight around and he was in danger of being badly hurt. Luckily he appeared to be ok after the fight and was gracious in defeat. He will certainly have no problem selling tickets for his future fights as entertainment is always provided.

By Ian Barnett

Photo credit Sophie Merlo

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