News May 2019

Tony Borg talks to Livefight; “Rees has picked Gary Buckland at the wrong time”


By Michael J Jones

Ahead of the big Cardiff bill on February 1st, Livefight caught up with Welsh coach Tony Borg to discuss his fighters' tough assignments on that show.

British and Commonwealth featherweight champion Lee Selby looks to add the European title to his collection in an intriguing clash against Rendall Munroe in the top of the bill. In the chief support, former British Super-featherweight Gary Buckland returns from a crushing knockout loss to Liverpool’s Stephen Smith to face former world champion Gavin Rees.

As trainer to both Selby and Buckland, Borg is faced with two tricky bouts for his boxers. Tony also trains several Welsh prospects and top-level amateurs at the St Joseph's gym in Newport.

We first talk about 17-1 (6) Lee Selby’s European title contest against Munroe...

“Munroe’s still a dangerous fighter” begins 49-year-old Borg. “Every opponent must be considered dangerous and I know Munroe will come to win.”

Munroe was a dominant super-bantamweight but after a defeat to Scott Quigg jumped up to the lightweight limit. May weight be an issue in this featherweight contest?

“Munroe is a muscular guy but I doubt there’ll be a weight issue” comments Tony. “He struggled as a super-bantamweight and obviously as you get older making weight gets harder but he’ll be coming in four pounds above his old limit so that will benefit him.”

I ask the former pro lightweight for a prediction and he doesn’t sit on the fence.

“I’m expecting a late stoppage from Lee probably in nine or ten rounds.”

Lee Selby had a successful 2013 winning all four fights comfortably against potential banana skins. How did his trainer see last year overall?

“This year we want to see Lee at 80 or 90% for every fight, last year he had four fights when he was only about 70% but he still won them all. We were hoping for four big knockouts and that didn’t happen but even though Lee was under par they were good fighters he was facing; Corey McDonnell, Ryan Walsh and the Romanian Simion were all undefeated remember.”

Many raised an eyebrow when the Buckland-Rees fight was announced. Although Rees is coming off two defeats to Adrien Broner and Anthony Crolla respectfully, he’s proven dangerous at the lightweight limit over the last four years. He certainly is far from the usual ‘confidence builder’ a fighter usually faces when coming off a KO defeat.

Was Tony Borg happy the fight was made when surely many safer options were available?

“Yes I was happy the fight was made, it’s a good time for it to happen and although Gary is coming off a loss he’s more focussed and determined than ever. They’ve sparred many times in the past and it’s always been close and very competitive.”

Rees has a long history of injury what does Tony think he has left at 33-years-old?

“He’s a genuine warrior, a tough kid and boxes with skill but at this stage I think Rees has picked the wrong time to face Gary Buckland.”

Why is Gary Buckland going to win this fight?

“He’s just got that extra hunger at this stage” answers Tony without hesitation. “People see Buckland as just a tough and strong kid but he has a lot of skill too.”

Many thought Buckland would roll right over Smith last year but the Scouse challenger forged a lead before a single right uppercut ended matters in the fifth. It seemed a devastating defeat to an inform champion...

“He just made a mistake before the fight” explains Borg. “He had a few problems before the fight and kept them to himself. He had weighed himself on the gym scales and was on the weight the day before the fight but he went home, stepped on his home scales and he was a pound heavier. He panicked and went for a long run there and then...he then did the same again the following morning and ended up weighing 9st 2½lbs his lightest in years.”

After suffering his third defeat, Buckland returns to the lightweight division to face Rees over twelve rounds.

I have to ask Tony his thoughts on the Welsh boxing boom of the last two or three years. Wales seems to be producing excellent fighters at every level from amateur all the way to top-level pros several of these talents are in the thriving Borg camp.

“I’ve been working hard in our gym for the last fifteen to twenty years” says Tony proudly. “Sean McGoldrick for example I’ve trained since he was about six and I’ve watched him go on to box in the GB squad, in the multi-nations and in the World Series.

Joe Cordina has done very well and has a great chance in this year’s Commonwealth Games. Fred Evans and Andrew Selby obviously have done amazing and the whole gym bounces off each other.”

“Part of our success is the fact all of the amateur and pros train and spar together. There are not many fighters in certain weights to be able to spar with but take Sean McGoldrick. I’ve had him sparring Gary Buckland and Lee Selby and he gets huge confidence from those sessions which. All my fighters bring out the best in each other and that’s all good for their development.”

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