Joshua Buatsi wants to leave no doubt that he’s the leading Light-Heavyweight in the country when he faces South London rival Craig Richards in a huge clash at The O2 this Saturday May 21, shown live worldwide on DAZN (excluding New Zealand and Australia).
Buatsi (15-0, 13 KOs) finally gets his hands on one of his fellow high-flying domestic rivals at 175lbs, with Richards hunting down a second World title shot after rising to the occasion in a tight loss to Dmitry Bivol last May in Manchester.
Richards’ performance against the WBA champion looks more impressive after Bivol produced a masterclass to defeat Mexican pound for pound king Canelo Alvarez earlier in the month, and the Crystal Palace man has been bullish in the build-up, saying that he is Buatsi’s first real test in the paid ranks.
The Olympic bronze medal man has adopted the mantra ‘Just Business’ in and out of the ring for the clinical way he goes about his work, and while there’s local bragging rights up for grabs against Richards, Buatsi knows that victory would lay the foundation to both claim the number one spot in the country and underline the need for a World title shot to be next.
“I am the best in the country,” said Buatsi. “The truth is though; we haven’t fought each other. Spider is the first Light-Heavyweight in Britain that I am boxing, so from there I can make a point of it. Everyone can say they are the best, but until someone gets a World title to separate themselves, then everyone has a point to make, and we are the first to really fight.
“He is saying I haven’t proved myself, but I don’t think that’s true. We were both amateurs, he fought, I fought, we entered the same tournaments, and I went on and did what I did. So, he cannot say that I’ve had an easier route, just because I went to the Olympics and did well. I killed myself for that medal, gave everything for it, so the narrative people have said and that he’s said too, I don’t think it’s true.
“I think I had that 50-50 fight against Ricards Bolotniks. A few of the governing bodies had him in their top five. I didn’t rank him, they ranked him. He was a very good opponent and I stopped him. His management team said that they rated me for taking the fight, because all the other Light-Heavyweights in the country didn’t want to fight him. We didn’t think twice.
“Craig had a good scrap with Bivol, but people have forgotten about it. I beat Bolotniks and people have forgotten about that too, that’s just what happens, but we’re here now. There wasn’t a lot of options out there, it was a fight that was being pushed and I said, ‘cool let’s take it’. It’s a good fight, he’s a good opponent, it’s in London. I have the same mindset and I’ll handle business as usual.
“I’m unbeaten but that means nothing to me. I haven’t got time to listen to the masses. He’s in front of me and that’s all that matters, not who is one or two, just the fight that’s happening and that’s what is in front of me. We’re not talking, we’re not making assumptions, we’re not predicting – we know that May 21 this is the guy I have got.
“I am better than him 100 per cent. Come on. I’ve looked at him in the eyes and he knows who I am. You don’t need to explain. I don’t need to talk smack and I don’t need the media. I love my private life. I’ve got opinions, but I don’t care about social media or any of that. Forget the image, when I fight, it’s straight violence. I carry myself in a certain way, but when I get in the ring, it’s straight violence. In professional boxing we’re all carrying ourselves in a certain way, but the brakes are off when I’m in the ring. The talking doesn’t do it, the fighting does.
“The reality is we’re going to fight. I have a self-belief, not everyone thinks I’m good or the next big thing, and that’s ok, I don’t care what the masses say. Whatever I must do, I will do and in that ring, I know in myself that I will find a way to win and do what I have to do. Winning by any formula. I’ve looked at him, I’ve seen him, I know what is going to happen to him and he knows too.”