The Bray light flyweight boxes in the National Elite Senior final this Saturday night and is aiming to go one better having finished runner-up in the 2016 edition.
On the face of it, Buckley should be down in the dumps at the minute but he is far from it ahead of his clash with Dublin 18-year-old Seán Mari.
The St Teresa’s talent won the Irish U22 title last month but, with his weight not being an Olympic class and the IABA for whatever reason choosing to only send a team of ten, Buckley will not be heading to the European U22s in Russia next month.
Buckley explained to Irish-Boxing.com that “I sent an e-mail in to see if I was picked for the team because I hadn’t heard anything back and I was just told that I wasn’t selected, no reason why.”
“That doesn’t bother me though, I’ve been dreaming of Elite titles since I was 11 years old, since I started boxing.”
“This has always been my number one goal, the European U22s would have been a bonus after it. It doesn’t bother me at all.”
Unlike Monkstown’s Mari, Buckley has received a bye to the final.
There won’t be a lack of sharpness though with the 21-year-old having been back training hard and even sparring with upcoming Irish featherweight title challenger Eric Donovan just days after his Irish U22 title win.
Buckley described how “I’ve been keeping busy and I’ve been sparring, between the Under-22s and this. I’m razor sharp.”
“I’ve been doing a good bit of sparring with Eric Donovan which is unbelievable, he has so much experience, and I’ve been able to take a lot from that.”
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Absolutely brilliant rounds done today with @ericd1985 getting ready for the national elites. I always learn a lot from our spars💯 thanks very much for the rounds👌 and thanks to @irishcutman and @kennetheganoly for having us out👊 @mark_buckley2 @jaidentankbuckley @markbuckley79 #Rocket #TeamBuckley #StTeresas #BeastMode #49kg #Elites #Learning #3Scaffolding #CoachInnBray #SupremeAltitudeAndFitness
Buckley trains exclusively with bigger men and the physically developed fighter believes he will hold a significant advantage over Mari this weekend.
‘The Rocket’ outlined how “you have to look for tough rounds, I have to go to big lads because they push you harder. There’s not many around either [at light flyweight].”
“I don’t mind, I can take a good shot! When you’re standing in with bigger lads and then you get in with lads your own weight, you’re throwing them around like an air balloon.”
“I’m feeling very confident ahead of it,” he said of the final, which will be his second following a defeat to Stevie McKenna back when he was just 18.
Buckley, who then turned pro and had two fights before returning amateur, believes he now has the experience of Irish boxing’s biggest night and he plans to take the title on Saturday.
Looking back on the 2016 final, he recalls how “I’ve learnt from that, big time.”
“I wasn’t even going to enter that year, I had just won the Intermediate title and I was going to wait with that and go the next year but we heard that there was only one or two in the weight so I said I’ll just enter it and see what the craic is.”
“I was injured and all, I had something wrong with my Achilles, I couldn’t even get up on my toes, I was flat footed, my fitness was all over the place but I said I’d just get in and give it a crack – it worked out well enough though. I thought it was a good fight.”
“This time, it’s about getting out there and getting the title.”
“I’ve learned a lot from that – and the pros – all the sparkle and the lights, I live for it, I feed off it.”