By Lucy McDonald

Rising light-heavyweight star, Joshua Buatsi, returns to the ring against former world title challenger, Craig Richards, in a domestic showdown tomorrow night at London’s O2 Arena.  

Fight fans were delighted, and rightly so, when this fight was announced. A true fifty-fifty domestic dust-up between two incredibly talented Brit’s at 175lb. The news of this fight has brought with it a tremendous amount of hype and a large difference in opinion as to who will become victorious on the night, and via what method.  

Buatsi’s last outing at Matchroom HQ in August 2021 saw him hold on to his unbeaten record and boost his knockout ratio with an eleven round TKO win over Ricards Bolotniks. Despite the bookies having had him a heavy favourite prior to fight week, Buatsi must get past a serious contender in Craig Richards before he can continue the world title dream.  

“The talking is nearly done. We’re going to find out on Saturday. The struggle from camp, I’ve got that in me. And I know how I want to perform on Saturday. It’s time to show it because camp was very hard. And I’ve paid the price but someone else has got to pay it now.
“The way that life is now, I go anywhere I need to go to improve, it happened to be in the States. It happened to be in Cali and that’s where I’m at. We all have one career. So, wherever I have to be, that’s where I have to be. My family my friends understand that when it’s all over we can party and we can celebrate. But for now, Saturday is what’s next.” 

On 7th May, unbeaten WBA world light-heavyweight champion, Dmitry Bivol, fought the pound-for-pound number one star, Canelo Alvarez, and beat him very convincingly via unanimous decision. Craig ‘Spider’ Richards challenged Bivol back in May 2021 for his world title and arguably gave him a much tougher night than Alvarez managed. Fans are now in the know as to how impressive a fighter Bivol is and, by proxy, how gifted Richards is. “Why couldn’t I have just been given the credit?” Richards has discussed in interviews since Bivol-Alvarez, as he has known precisely just how monstrous the effort he made against possibly the best light-heavyweight in world boxing, was. It feels for the 32-year-old like it has taken for someone else to lose to Bivol for him to gain the respect he deserves, over a year later, for giving him such a difficult night. On Saturday, he has the opportunity to take every last piece of credit if he can walk away victorious against one of the UK’s fan-favourites in Buatsi.  

“I do believe that I’ll be victorious otherwise I wouldn’t be here today. I believe all the fights that I’ve taken have put me in good stead. It’s not personal to Josh, I just believe that I’m the best in the division. I’m very good at adapting to fighters. I’ve got a very good IQ and it just depends on what I want to bring and what I’ve got in the toolbox that night. I believe I’ve got the tools to get the job done on Saturday night. It’s not personal to him it’s just that I believe I have the ability to beat anyone. I’ve got to keep proving the doubters wrong.” 

Also featuring on the card is unified super-lightweight world champion, Chantelle Cameron, who will be defending her titles against Victoria Noelia Bustos, and aims toward an undisputed bout with Kali Reis before the end of 2022.  

“I know this is gonna be a tough fight, but that’s what I want. I want the tough fights. I want to prove that I’m a worthy world champion. If the stoppage comes, it’ll be nice… I’m hitting harder and I’m fitter. We’ve been working on a few tactics, and I think that my punches are going to be a bit more hurtful.” 

The always-exciting Alen ‘The Savage’ Babic continues his campaign at bridgerweight in a match-up with Poland’s Adam Balski. A shot at current WBC bridgerweight champion, Oscar Rivas, is looking likely to be the reward for the winner.  

“I’m fulfilling my dream every time I come here. I’m in the best shape of my life. I expect this to be another knockout, a crazy knockout. I’m not just going there to box. I’m back to my old self. I’m just going to try to knock out this guy. I respect him and he respects me. It’s all good. Let’s all just end careers by The Savage! I don’t have opinions. I just do stuff and that’s what I’m gonna do.” 

Stablemates Ellie Scotney and Robbie Davies Jr will also return to the ring, both in very challenging fights. Scotney will make her first defence of the WBA intercontinental super-bantamweight title against the former world champion, Maria Cecilia Roman. Roman fights less than two months after losing out to Ebanie Bridges on the scorecards for the IBF world bantamweight title, and is keen to get back to winning ways. In his first fight of 2022, Davies Jr will make his first defence of the WBA continental super-lightweight title against Javier Molina. 

Tokyo 2020 Olympian, Cheavon Clarke, will look to go 2-0 after making a statement earlier this year in his debut fight at the O2 with a second-round knockout victory. Cyrus Pattinson, who has had an unlucky spell of fight camps that failed to result in a fight night, will look to continue his unbeaten run. John ‘The Gentleman’ Hedges will look to go 7-0 after adding his first knockout win to his record at the O2 in February. Unbeaten welterweight, Shiloh Defreitas, will kick the card off in six-rounder.  

Buatsi vs Richards, and the main undercard, will air live on DAZN from 7pm for UK subscribers. Matchroom Boxing will show a handful of the undercard bouts via their YouTube channel, scheduled to commence at 4.45pm.  

Photo Credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

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