SAM COUZENS’ brave assault on the Southern Area title ended in gritty defeat last night.
The Titchfield terror went down to a four-round loss to Enfield’s Frank Buglioni for the super-middleweight crown at the York Hall in Bethnal Green.
But that wasn’t before the 28-year-old delivered a sterling test of the Londoner’s credentials in the BoxNation-televised clash.
Couzens, in truth, was sent in as the sacrificial lamb to be devoured by his highly-touted rival, who is promoted by Frank Warren.
As ever, though, the 11-13 man showed his usual depths of resolve and heart with Buglioni given one or two worrying moments.
Buglioni’s corner were even moved to tell their man they were ‘embarrassed’ by his performance as Couzens enjoyed more success than expected.
Buglioni promised to blow his opponent away inside two rounds in the build-up to the contest.
The 25-year-old would have done just that to most opponents when landing two ferocious body shots with 55 seconds left of the first.
He hadn’t banked on the resilience Couzens always brings to the table, though. It was those qualities which saw him to the bell.
Although regularly landing, the writing appeared to be on the wall at that stage for the man trained by New Forest coach Steve Tyrell.
Couzens came charging back into the equation, though, encouraged by a right hand on the first bell.
Some smart combinations caught the eye, with any suggestion the underdog would crumble emphatically answered.
If the second round offered stability for Couzens, the third provided real cause for optimism. Couzens opened the round landing a couple of rearhands which hit the mark.
Buglioni responded with some eye-catching uppercuts, the third of which sent Couzens reeling back on the ropes. Sensing victory, the 12-1 man moved in for the kill but was greeted with an excellent Couzens response which silenced the home crowd.
First a three-punch combination ended with an uppercut bang on the mark. That was followed with a succession of rights and uppercuts, which had Buglioni reeling and gave Couzens the round.
That was the cue for trainer Mark Tibbs to read his man the riot act.
Buoyed by his success, Couzens started the fourth in the ascendancy.
The plan was to seize on any demons Buglioni had lingering after being stopped last time out by Belarussian Sergey Khomitsky.
That was evident in his efforts to rough up his opponent, although, Buglioni handled that challenge.
A couple of solid rights again jolted Buglioni’s head along with an uppercut, but his reply was a succession of lefts and rights which had Couzens on the retreat.
Couzens was catching most of the shots coming his way on the arm, but with nothing coming back and his gumshield going awry, ref Bob Williams waved the contest off.
So a brave loss for the former Titchfield ABC amateur, but maybe Buglioni gave the fittest assessment of his display.
‘Sam Couzens is a tough boy,’ said the boxer they call the Wise Guy. Wise words indeed.