It’s London bragging rights up for grabs as Crystal Palaces’ Craig Richards meets Croydon’s Joshua Buatsi in a highly anticipated light-heavyweight clash.
A win for either man most definitely puts them in the driving seat for a world title shot before the year is out, with the loser possibly facing a long road back to the 175-pound promise land.
Buatsi and Richards face off ahead of their highly anticipated British light-heavyweight showdown (Photo Credit: Boxing News)
The famous O2 Arena takes centre stage on Saturday night for this all-British light-heavyweight clash, with the boxing community split right down the centre as to who they think will triumph.
Let’s start with Joshua Buatsi. Former GB Olympian golden boy, undefeated record, potential pay-per-view star. What is there not to like about Mr Buatsi and his career so far?
Unblemished, barely a scratch on him in his 15 professional fights. The 29-year-old was perhaps one of the hottest prospects in world boxing when he decided to turn over after the Rio Olympics in 2016, leaving behind an amateur scene which had been so fruitful to him.
Last time out, Buatsi faced arguably his toughest test in Ricards Bolotniks. Although he was heavy favourite and was expected to win, the Croydon man broke the Golden Contract winner down, round by round, before eventually stopping him in the penultimate 11th round of their 12 round contest. This was a statement of sorts, with Bolotniks in the form of his life and having not been stopped since 2018.
Joshua Buatsi is undefeated in 15 professional fights (Photo credit: MyLondon)
However, the inactivity simply cannot be ignored. Buatsi has fought just three times in the past 33 months, which isn’t enough for someone on the cusp of a world title shot, with ambitions of ruling the division. That mixed with the level of opponent Buatsi has faced, makes Saturday night’s showdown ever more intriguing.
Comparing the two resumes, it is evident that Richards has fought the bigger names. Fighting Frank Buglioni on short notice, being the underdog against Shakan Pitters and travelling to fight Dmitry Bivol, and seemingly giving him his toughest test, shows that it is Richards who has had the tougher rise to where he is now, which will most certainly stand him in good stead for this fight.
That being said, Buatsi is a superstar. He has all of the tools needed to rule supreme in the light-heavyweight division. Saturday night is yet another stepping stone to world title glory for Buatsi, who cannot be ignored, especially if he puts a beating on his London rival and wins in style.
In the opposite corner you have Craig Richards. A former Southern Area Champion down at 168-pounds, not to mention a recent challenger to the throne of light-heavyweight king, Dmitry Bivol.
Richards’ career has been a strange one. His two losses have come in fights he really wasn’t expected to win. Firstly, back in 2017 when he lost a relatively wide points decision to Frank Buglioni, who was the British super-middleweight champion, in a fight that perhaps came a bit too soon for Richards. Added to this fact is that ‘Spider’ came in to the fight on short notice as a replacement opponent.
His other defeat came last year at the hands of Dmitry Bivol; a fight which Richards deserves a huge amount of credit for, pushing Bivol all the way and giving him the toughest fight of his career. That performance has aged like a fine wine, given the manner in which Bivol dismantled and eased past Canelo Alvarez just under a fortnight ago.
The biggest win of the 32-year-olds career came when he won the British title at the second attempt, knocking out the formerly undefeated Shakan Pitters in nine rounds in December of 2020. A performance which put the British light-heavyweight scene on notice again, with Richards throwing his name into the hat as not just a contender again, but one of the best 175-pound fighters in the country.
Craig Richards is certainly a live underdog on Saturday night (Photo credit: Belfast Telegraph)
Richards will come to the O2 Arena full of confidence, knowing that he has been to the trenches and has what it takes to bounce back. Although it was a loss on his record at the end of the day, the fight against Bivol cannot be ignored and will have risen Richards’ stock massively, especially with the Russian's comprehensive defeat of pound-for-pound king, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
It cannot be argued that Bivol vs Richards was a close fight. Did Richards win? No. Did he have success in the fight? Yes. Arguably far more success than what Canelo had against the WBA light-heavyweight champion.
All of this mixed with the fact that Buatsi hasn’t fought anywhere near the level of opponent as Richards has, means ‘Spider’ has every chance of upsetting the apple cart and putting a huge dent in the career of Joshua Buatsi.
Only time will tell how close this fight is and what will happen in that ring on Saturday night, but this is one you can’t afford to miss, an all-British light-heavyweight clash this coming weekend.
Joshua Buatsi (15-0, 13 KOs)
Ricards Bolotniks – WIN – TKO Round 11
Daniel Blenda Dos Santos – WIN – TKO Round 4
Marko Calic – WIN – TKO Round 7
Ryan Ford – WIN – KO Round 7
Craig Richards (17-2-1, 10 KOs)
Marek Matyja – WIN – TKO Round 6
Dmitry Bivol – LOSS – UD (115-113, 118-110, 115-114)
Shakan Pitters – WIN – TKO Round 9
Chad Sugden – DRAW – PTS (77-77)
Date: May 21st 2022
Time: Approx. 10.30 Ring Walk (GMT)
Venue: O2 Arena, London, England, UK
Promotor: Matchroom Boxing (live on DAZN)
Official Fight Poster (Photo credit: theo2.co.uk)
Elsewhere on the card, Alen Babic takes on Adam Balski, with Robbie Davies Jr facing Javier Molina for the WBA Continental super-lightweight title. There is also some female world title action, as Chantelle Cameron puts her undefeated record on the line against Victoria Noelia Bustos, defending her WBC and IBF world super-lightweight titles. Ellie Scotney, Chavon Clarke, John Hedges and Shiloh Defreitas also feature on the undercard.