Regan Buckley confirmed the decision to move up to 52kg’s was a personal one not a High Performance one.
Having dug out the vest and returned to the amateurs from the pro ranks the St Teresa’s man entered the National Elite Championships at light flyweight – a weight no longer part of the Olympic boxing program – sending eyebrows north in the process.
After claiming his first ever senior National title an emotional ‘Rego’ then explained the plan was to gain international experience at light fly before targeting a spot in the Paris 2024 Olympics at flyweight.
However, it seems plans have changed again. The Bray native announced himself as an International elite fighter with a brilliant bronze medal winning innings in the European Games – and now has the chance to fast track his Olympic plans by four years if he manages to medal in the upcoming World Championships in Russia.
The light flyweight European Games medal winner was selected as Ireland’s flyweight representative for the prestigious World’s which glove off on September 9.
The selection did raise questions as to whether the IABA and High Performance team had encouraged the former pro to move up to a weight where Rio Olympian Brendan Irvine is fancied and Adam Hession is reigning Irish champion.
‘The Rocket’ confirms that decision to move up was his, but stressed he has been backed by the powers that be, something confirmed by his selection.
“Basically the High Performance weren’t going to send a 49kg fighter to any more international competitions as there was no funding for that weight group, so it was up to me to decide,” Buckley told Irish-boxing.com.
“It was my own decision. I have to be my own person and make these decisions but my team have supported me fully. And when I say move up that’s old news now I’m moving back down to 52 now I’m well up at the weight and strong at it!”
The fighter who holds a pro win over Irish bantamweight champion Carl McDonald would look to be in the High Performance’s Olympic plans.
His selection for the World’s suggests he is being considered along side Irvine, who missed the European Games due to injury, and potentially Hession.
However, Buckley isn’t reading into big tournament selection too much pointing out each fighter has lots of avenues from which to impress ahead of the March London hosted Olympic qualifiers.
“The way the IABA are doing selections means there are no certainties about who will get picked for qualifiers. It’s based on a couple of different factors, one of course is performance in recent international tournaments but also about performance in training camps, sparring.
“So even if you win the Elites you still have to work hard for your place on that plane. I’ll be working as hard as I can to make sure I do get picked but for now I’m just fully focused on these Worlds.”
It does seem unfair to be pressing the big hearted little man on Toyko when the biggest tournament of his boxing career is just days away.
Buckley himself just wants to focus on the task at hand and proving himself against the best the world has to offer. It’s all new for Wicklow man, but he doesn’t seem daunted.
“It’s very exiting knowing I’ll be in with the top lads in the world but I won’t put them on a pedestal.
“I’m confident in my abilities and this will be another great opportunity to show that I belong up there with the top lads. I’ve had some great sparring with the world No. 1 from Cuba and was very happy with how I performed against him, so it’s all about performance now and let the rest sort itself out,” he adds before pointing out gold is the target.
“I’m over here for a gold medal, that’s my mindset going in here. I’ve put countless hours of hard graft in and I’m gonna leave everything I have in there.”
It’s self assured from the emerging talent. In fairness to Buckley he has always seemed confident, but he claims that only increased with his displays and performances on international stage at the European Games.
“I do feel more confident now going into these championships after the European Games. I feel like I’ve taken a lot from those games and it’s improved me overall as a boxer. The experience, that was what that was all about. I’ve got that now so it’ll stand to me here. This is still only a stepping stone towards the bigger picture which is the qualifiers,” he continues before reconfirming he made the right choice in returning to the amateur set up.
“I’m loving the amateur game, nobody’s afraid to fight. It’s great that all of these top class lads actually want to fight you. The level of fighters I’m up against here are world class and at the top of their game so I’m constantly tested. I’m really enjoying my boxing and as they say, a happy fighter is a dangerous fighter.”
“Big shout out to all of the coaches in St.Teresas Boxing Club Mark, Jeff, Ger, and Joe. The work they put in is phenomenal and isn’t recognized enough.And my sponsors
-Supreme Altitude and fitness center bray
-Coach Inn Bray
I couldn’t train as hard as I do and travel without them supporting me.”