News May 2019

Buckland: “I helped Stephen Smith beat me and I'm ready to overcome Rees on comeback”


By Michael J Jones

On February 1st in Cardiff, former British super-featherweight champion Gary Buckland faces arguably his toughest test yet against fellow Welshman Gavin Rees. Last August (also in Cardiff) Buckland surprisingly lost his British crown to Liverpool’s Stephen Smith. The Rees bout marks his ring return at “Dynamo’s” old weight of 135lbs.

Speaking exclusively to Livefight, the Hatton-promoted “Dynamo” concedes his preparation last time out was far from perfect...

“Last year was by far my worst amateur or pro” Buckland tells Livefight a few days ago over the phone. “I was meant to fight in Argentina (on the Martinez-Murray bill) but it got cancelled at last minute. I had a few personal problems last year...the Stephen Smith fight was just a disaster.”

Facing the former domestic featherweight champion, many predicted a routine win for Buckland over the Liverpool favourite but it went far from according to plan...

“I got on my house scales and they were wrong” sighs 27-year-old Buckland. “I felt really ill at the weigh in and many people, even people who didn’t know anything about boxing, said I looked gaunt and skinny. The day of the fight I felt ok but when the fight started I just didn’t feel right.”

Buckland reiterated what trainer Tony Borg said recently that Gary checked his weight at home and found he was heavier than the gym scales at St Joseph’s. He came into the fight very light at 9st 2½lbs and looked subsequently lethargic in the ring.

Smith boxed in commanding fashion on the back-foot before a crunching right uppercut ended matters in the fifth. It was the third defeat on the record of the defending champion who suffered his first reverse in over three years.

“I have no excuses but basically I helped Stephen Smith to win that fight” Buckland concludes.

Was Gavin Rees the best guy to choose for a comeback contest?

“I know Rees is tough but I don’t feel I can get up for little nothing fights now so when I was offered Gavin Rees for this show I jumped at the chance. I just know I wasn’t right last time out.”

Rees is 33-years-old, coming off two defeats but still a former world champion, what does Gary think his opponent has left?

“I know he’s aging a bit but he’s still a vastly underrated boxer. He’s short but he uses his height to come under shots, he’s skilful, has a very good jab and is awkward to fight.”

Buckland has sparred Rees on numerous occasions so both men know each other extremely well. There has been a mutual respect shown between both camps ahead of fight date and the 27-3 (9) Buckland is equally respectful about his opponent on February 1st.

“Gavin Rees is a good pro and I think I am too, (the Rees team) are coming to win and so are we so I say just let the best man win. Every time there’s an all-Welsh fight or a contest for the Welsh title, especially in Cardiff, it’s always a barn-stormer, a really great fight. I think this will be no different.”

Will the busy Welshman’s famous work-rate prove the difference against the six-years-older Rees?

“I think in most of my fights my work-rate proves the difference...but I have to be careful this time the way I come in (to attack). I walked into that big shot against Smith and I’ll be more careful not to leave myself open for a big shot again.”

Buckland had only suffered two other defeats in his career before the Smith loss; a very close decision loss to Ben Murphy in 2008 and a short-notice TKO to then-European champion John Murray in 2010. Since then the plucky Welshman has looked the goods, dominating all in Prizefighter in November 10’ before capturing the British crown and making two defences.

Last year was meant to be the year the Cardiff puncher stepped up another level to European or even world honours; instead he fought just once and was beaten. Some are never the same after such a set-back...

“Obviously a fighter doesn’t know what he has left until he’s in there again” admits Buckland with brutal honesty. “I know I made mistakes before Smith, I know there were things on my mind, for this fight I’ve worked very hard for five weeks and done everything right this time.”

“In all my defeats I’ve come back stronger than ever and I’m hoping this will be the same starting with the Rees fight.”

Matchroom’s ‘Reloaded' show should be an incredible night at the Cardiff Motor Point Arena. Alongside Buckland’s intriguing bout with Rees, Lee Selby faces Rendall Munroe for the European featherweight title. Also on the bill are Chris Jenkins, Anthony Joshua and a host of other talented young fighters.

Tickets for 'Reloaded' Selby v Munroe are on sale now priced at £30, £40, £60 ringside and £120 VIP are available from or by calling 02920 22 44 88

VIP Packages priced £120 are available from or by calling 01277 359900

The show will be broadcast live on Sky Sports

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