Peter Buckley, who fought Acelino Freitas and Lehlo Ledwaba again to again inside his 300 fights, deserves his personal particular place in British boxing historical past, writes Steve Bunce
THE actually extraordinary Peter Buckley met a Duke, a Prince, a King and in his 300 fights by no means refused an opponent. He final fought in 2008, a win at Aston Villa Leisure Centre, which was per week after a six-round loss on factors to Lee Selby, who was having his second combat. I calculate that he met 161 unbeaten fighters, had about 70 fights with champions and met one thing like 20 world belt-holders. And, earlier than you ask, it was Duke McKenzie. Yep, Duke was his finest opponent and the toughest. There’ll by no means be one other fighter with Buckley’s report, by no means.
“No, no regrets,” he informed me at Bar Sport in Cannock over the weekend. It was yet one more launch for his e-book, King of the Journeymen, written with Chris Akers.
Buckley was in positive kind and simply slipped from his first combat, to his largest fights and to his final combat. A draw, a loss for sure and a win. His first opponent, Alan Baldwin, by no means fought once more; Buckley went on and had 299 extra fights. So many nights, so many names, so little cash for the nameless fights.
I requested concerning the evening in Cardiff when he was stopped by Naseem Hamed and requested why he had complained a lot? “I used to be not damage, not even a bit bit and I had fights lined up,” he insisted. The stoppage meant he would lose work. At one level he had six fights lined-up, back-to-back exhibits and journey. Paisley, Mansfield, Cleethorpes, Bethnal Inexperienced in a 3 or four-week run.
It was a distinct time, however he may nonetheless be within the pub the evening earlier than a combat, nonetheless travelling with different fighters underneath the Nobby Nobbs banner; getting in rings at brief discover and serving to a child with a successful report keep unbeaten. Buckley’s recall of fights is wonderful, not simply the names, however the delicate particulars about one of the best, the worst, essentially the most protected and the stupidly hyped. He’s a strolling almanac, a person with distinctive information of a era of champions. “I used to observe all of the fights,” he informed me. “I might watch earlier than my combat and watch after I fought. I knew all of the fighters; Nobby would name me up and ask me how I assumed a fighter would go together with a sure fighter.” That’s correct information, as historical as a resin bucket.
There have been some nice cameos on nice nights, buried early earlier than the venues crammed and he at all times pushed the native unbeaten man. On the Steve Collins-Neville Brown undercard in Millstreet, close to Cork, Buckley misplaced to Paul Griffin over six rounds. Griffin by the way in which, was sandwiched between Patrick Mullings and future WBO featherweight belt-holder, Colin McMillan, in early 1996. It was a few months after the Griffin loss that Buckley, who had misplaced 58 instances, was informed he wanted a win; in South London he stopped Matt Brown within the first – Brown was unbeaten in seven on the time. The win meant the Board was off his again. I’m undecided the trendy Board would permit one other Buckley to combat and lose so many instances in opposition to such towering opposition. Kristian Laight, who additionally had 300 fights and retired in 2018, met completely completely different stage fighters.
There isn’t a likelihood his back-to-back fights in opposition to Acelino Freitas and Lehlo Ledwaba in December 1998 would occur now. Each received world belts within the months after beating Buckley. In accordance with Akers, Freitas nonetheless praises Buckley’s defence.
“I almost went to Australia as soon as,” he continued. “The cash was unhealthy, however I simply wished to go.” The combat fell via. On too many different nights it was Buckley who saved the evening when a combat fell via. Brief discover, no sweat. He reckons that he might have gotten the choice 60 extra instances and, naturally, he received all 12 of his drawn fights. He’s in all probability proper, however there have been nights the place nothing would have helped him and there have been too many nights when he understood totally his position. The nights when he did simply sufficient to lose ought to at all times be balanced in opposition to the nights when he needed to do the whole lot attainable to not get damage. Buckley was fearless.
“Within the first combat with Duke [McKenzie] he made me perceive concerning the ranges within the sport,” Buckley insisted. “He stopped me and I had by no means been stopped newbie or professional at the moment. He damage me.” He began to get loads wiser after that loss and briefly: He began to know the enterprise he had chosen. Buckley completed with 32 wins, 256 defeats and 12 attracts.,
At Bar Sport, the viewers listened as Buckley rattled off the record of fighters that he had shared a hoop with and, speaking to him, he at all times appeared so as to add a praise: “Duke McKenzie, nice jab… Naseem Hamed, good man… Acelino Freitas, good fighter.” Listening and speaking to Peter Buckley is like taking a cherished stroll via 20 years of British boxing historical past, taking an in-depth tour with considered one of boxing’s biggest survivors. Buckley informed quite a lot of managers and promoters the reality about their prospects and a few of these truths stay hidden.
Right now, an actual craftsman like Buckley may wrestle to not win – so many younger fighters load-up with their photographs, it’s not possible to not think about Buckley pinging away along with his jab, tucking underneath a looping hook and nicking 4 and 6 spherical fights. Nevertheless, the Buckley-Nobbs enterprise was not about turning over promoters and fighters. Buckley’s cellphone went lifeless after the Brown stoppage.
“You already know, some refs would say to me, simply earlier than the final spherical, ‘Good spherical right here, Pete, and it’s a draw.’ I knew then I had received,” Buckley added. “It was by no means about successful and titles with me; it was about incomes. That’s what it was with me.” And on his lengthy journey he grew to become a preventing legend. When you get an opportunity, go and meet Peter Buckley and get an schooling from a preventing grasp.
The Lifetime of Peter Buckley: King of the Journeymen by Peter Buckley, with Chris Akers is out now.