Cardiff’s latest pocket dynamo — the free-swinging Gary Buckland — puts his freshly-gathered British junior lightweight crown on the line this weekend against Middlesbrough’s forgotten man, Paul Truscott. For the champion, it marks a return to the scene of September’s title winning triumph, a slam-bam decision victory over fellow Energizer Bunny Gary Sykes (at the Ponds Forge Arena in Sheffield). Truscott, meanwhile, will be desperate to surface from the shadows which have cloaked a once promising career, one that has been left to unfurl amid undercards in an assortment of sports halls throughout the north of England.
Truscott, 18-2 (3), is a well-conditioned and able boxer. A fine amateur, his luck has been poor since turning over to the pros. An opportunity to grab some much-needed exposure went begging last year after an unlikely meet with American prospect Gary Russell Jr. capsized at the eleventh hour. Maladministration put paid to that one, another setback in a career which had long since stagnated after the fighter’s curse, busted knuckles, left him languishing beneath dust sheets.
The only championship-level opponent to have cropped up on Truscott’s resume to that point (and indeed since) belongs to Greenock’s hard luck hard case, John Simpson. In a brace of featherweight set-tos in 2009, Truscott, boxing in his hometown on both occasions, succumbed to Simpson’s no-frills scrapping. Their first encounter was settled on a damaged eye whereas the rematch, a veritable bloodbath, proved to be a good deal more conclusive and finished with Truscott halted on his feet in round 10 with his face caked in blood.
Buckland, 24-2 (8), emerged from an even steeper trough himself. A failed short-notice challenge to John Murray for the Mancunian’s British and European lightweight championships a couple of years back caught Buckland a terrific thrashing over eleven rounds during which he exhibited gameness beyond the call. His second defeat (he’d lost a six round squeaker to caveman Ben Jones in his 15th fight) prompted a relocation five pounds south, to a weight class he was better suited at and one he hasn’t been beaten in since. In the process, he has claimed the scalps of Sykes (twice — the first time via 45 second knockout) Stevie Bell and “Dirty” Derry Matthews.
Both fighters are 25 and so an energetic encounter can be banked on. Truscott is the taller man (two inches officially yet he boxes upright whereas Buckland hunts from a crouch) and he can find success with his rangy and well-aimed jab. A correct puncher who lacks pop, Truscott must resist the urge to trade with the champion whose own hitting ability appears more potent at 130 lbs. Buckland will encourage it, though, and he could prove importunate. He’s the pick here via stoppage. Arcing right hands can help clinch another entertaining championship scuffle, one which will bleed into another against Salford’s former European champion Stephen Foster Jr., who looks set to take on the winner.