Joshua Buatsi (16-0, 13 KOs) outworked the big punching Craig Richards (17-3-1, 10 KOs) to win an exciting 12-round unanimous decision in a WBA 175-lb title eliminator on Saturday night in front of a packed house at the O2 Arena in London, England.
Whatever chance Richards had of winning, he threw it out the window by starting slow, letting Buatsi jump out to a big lead early doors. By the time Richards turned up the heat on the 2016 Olympian Buatsi, he was well behind in the fight by round eight.
The scores were 116-112, 115-113, and 115-113, all for Buatsi.
Richards hurt Buatsi with a beautiful right uppercut in the eighth round that had him holding on.
In the championship rounds, Buatsi was the busier fighter, landing many nice shots throughout the final three rounds.
Richards knocked Buatsi’s mouthpiece out in the tenth round with a scorching right hand. Instead of losing his cool, Buatsi flurries on Richards, nailing him with a ton of powerful shots.
To his credit, Richards took them, but he clearly lost the round. It was a good effort from Richards, but his late start in the fight foiled his chances of winning.
Buatsi is now the mandatory challenger to WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol. Promoter Eddie Hearn said he hopes to make the Bivol vs. Buatsi fight later this year if Canelo Alvarez chooses not to fight a rematch against him.
Eddie Hearn sees Buatsi vs. Richards bout as a 50-50 affair, and he could be right. Richards looked impressive recently in his fight against WBA 175-lb champion Dmitry Bivol last May, coming VERY close to defeating him.
Boxing 247 will be giving live updates/results of tonight’s action below.
In a thrilling war, Alen ‘The Savage’ Babic (11-0, 10 KOs) defeated Adam Balski (16-1, 9 KOs) in a 10-round unanimous decision to capture the WBC bridgerweight silver title. Babic was dropped by a left hook in the first round after getting wreckless.
With both guys going to war, Babic got the better of the action due to his superior engine. Balski was hurt in rounds seven, eight, and ten.
For his part, Babic was badly stunned after getting nailed by a powerful right hand from Balski after the bell in the ninth. The late hit resulted in Balski being penalized a point.
The scores were 97-91, 97-91, and 95-93. With the victory, Babic will next face Oscar Rivas for the WBC bridgerweight title. Babic will need to raise his game considerably if he’s to have any chance of beating Rivas because he’s a well-schooled fighter with power and a lot of experience.
Robbie Davies Jr (23-3, 15 KOs) put on a great display of boxing & slugging in successfully defending his WBA Continental light welterweight title, beating Javier “Intocable” Molina (22-5, 9 KOs) by a 10 round split decision. The scores were 96-94, 96-94 Davies, and 97-94 Molina.
Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn is hopeful that the winner of tonight’s Buatsi vs. Richards fight can challenge WBA 175-lb champion Dmitry Bivol for his title next.
The idea is that Bivol will take on the winner of the Buatsi-Richards fight while Canelo Alvarez battles Gennadiy Golovkin in September in their trilogy match.
If Canelo comes out the winner against GGG, he would then face Bivol in a rematch if he’s still the WBA champion by that point.
Buatsi, 29, is a 2016 British Olympian whose career has failed to launch despite huge expectations from his Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn.
When he signed Buatsi, he saw a potential star, but due to his failure to fight as often as needed, he’s failed to increase his popularity during the last five years.
Indeed, Buatsi is arguably less popular now than when he first turned professional in 2017, and it’s becoming obvious that it was a huge mistake for Hearn to have inked him.
If Buatsi fails to win tonight or if he gets beaten later this year by Bivol, don’t be surprised if Hearn cuts him loose in the same way he did Demetrius Andrade. You couldn’t blame Hearn for doing so. This is show business, and Buati has failed to perform.
Buatsi is coming off an 11th-round stoppage win over Richards Bolotniks nine months ago in August 2021. This is another example of Buatsi shooting himself in the foot by failing to stay active.
In the last nine months, Buatsi should have fought at least twice if not three times, if he wanted to become a star like Gennadiy Golovkin, Anthony Joshua, and other popular fighters who were busy in the early portion of their careers.
On the undercard, Alen Babics fights Adam Balski in a bridgerweight contest. The winner of the fight will take on Oscar Rivas for the WBC bridgerweight title.
That’s going to be a tough one for the Babics vs. Balski winner, considering that Rivas is essentially a true heavyweight with lots of experience, power, and ability that neither of these two fighters has ever seen.
Joshua Buatsi fights Craig Richards tonight in a WBA light heavyweight title eliminator on DAZN at the O2 Arena in London, England. The start time for Buatsi – Richards is at 2:00 ET.