Frank Buglioni’s bid to become the WBA super middleweight world champion fell short on Saturday, as Fedor Chudinov beat him on points in London.
Buglioni put up a brave fight at Wembley Arena in the English capital but was second-best throughout the 12 rounds.
Chudinov retained his title by scores of 120-106, 118-108 and 117-109. The margins were wide, yet they did not reflect how hard Buglioni had made the Russian work to keep hold of his belt.
Here Bleacher Report breaks down the major talking points from the main event.
A Winner in Defeat
Martin Domin summed it up nicely in his fight report for the Mail: “If pride and guts won world titles, Frank Buglioni would be waking up a champion this Sunday morning.”
The challenger demonstrated his boxing skills in the early stages, launching shots off the back foot.
However, the problem was he simply couldn’t throw anything to stop Chudinov’s forward progress. The Russian relentlessly marched his rival down, sapping Buglioni's energy as the rounds ticked by.
Yet it was in the second half of the bout that the Englishman really showed his determination to stay the course.
There were times when he looked ready to fall. With his hands dropping down, he absorbed some particularly powerful right hands over the top.
But Buglioni somehow made it through to the final bell, a victory in itself. He told BoxNation after the fight (h/t Sporting Life): "It was a massive opportunity. I gave it 12 weeks and gave it my best."
There was no denying Buglioni gave it his best. Sadly, though, his best wasn’t quite good enough.
It is tough to see how he earns another shot at a major belt in the foreseeable future, given Chudinov was seen as the weakest of the current champions at 168 pounds.
The Knockdown That Never Was
Things might have been different had the sixth round been just a little longer.
A combination for once seemed to rattle Chudinov in the closing seconds. Buglioni, though, got a little carried away by his sudden success, landing a right a second or two after the bell had sounded to end the round.
The blow knocked his rival, who had lowered his guard, to the canvas. The home crowd briefly got excited, and referee Terry O’Connor seemed momentarily confused over what to do.
However, before the start of the seventh he made it clear to the officials at ringside that Buglioni should lose two points for an illegal blow.
Undeterred, Buglioni jumped out when the bell rang again to launch an attack. Sensing it was now or never, he poured it all out for the first minute of the seventh round.
The problem was, though, that the break had given Chudinov enough time to recover from his trip to the canvas. From that moment on, it became clear Buglioni was spent. The fact he even managed to hear the final bell is enough to earn him a badge of honour.
But had that right hand landed about one minute earlier in the sixth, he might well have ended up with a world title instead.
From Russia with Love
Chudinov—who had the legendary Roy Jones Jr. working in his corner—had plenty to prove heading into the Buglioni fight.
He had claimed the vacant WBA title—which was formerly the property of Carl Froch—by beating Felix Sturm on points in May.
However, Sturm, 36, is well past his best. Chudinov, at 28 and with an unbeaten 13-fight record, needed to prove he wasn't just a fighter who met the right opponent at the right time.
It turned out he was exactly as advertised: short, stocky and durable, though not without some skills. His jab, considering his reach is only 72”, was effective.
And, while Buglioni seemed to be running on fumes in the final stages, Chudinov looked fit enough to keep on going for another few rounds at least.
He showed his stamina and displayed an ability to deliver a range of shots, but it is questionable that Chudinov would be able to wear down and dominate the other world champions in the division.
According to Boxing News 24, it seems his next move is a rematch with Sturm, a bout that we have seen before.