Joshua Buatsi and Craig Richards are set to meet in a light heavyweight showdown this Saturday from London’s O2 Arena, with the bout headlining a Matchroom Boxing card on DAZN.
Buatsi and Richards are both former British light heavyweight champions, though neither ever defended the belt as sticking to domestic level was not of great interest to either man. Now, they’re both pretty relevant names in the world rankings, and a fight between them just makes sense from bigger angles than a domestic belt.
Richards believes Buatsi hasn’t really proven himself and has been given an easier path as a pro, but Buatsi (15-0, 13 KO) doesn’t really see it that way, and believes he is the best 175 lb fighter in the United Kingdom already.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Buatsi gives Richards (17-2-1, 10 KO) his credit for his performance against Dmitry Bivol a year ago, but also knows that boxing is a short memory sport.
“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.”
Buatsi says his unbeaten record isn’t important to him, and that while he’s not predicting anything or “making assumptions,” he feels he has the tools to win on Saturday.
“I am better than him, 100 percent. 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,” he said. “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. 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.”
Bad Left Hook will have live coverage for Buatsi vs Richards on Saturday, May 21, starting at 2 pm ET.