BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Craig “Spider” Richards executed his game plan to perfection as he won the British light-heavyweight title last weekend.
The Crystal Palace puncher, 30, produced a huge left hook in the ninth round to floor Shakan Pitters for the second time – referee Victor Loughlin waving the contest over.
And Peter Sims, who has trained Richards from his amateur days, said: “That is probably the best performance of his career.
“His most sensational fight has to be [the third-round knockout of] Jake Ball, but this time all the hard work and everything planned in the gym came off.
“It went exactly as I expected. Our plan was to hurt Pitters early on -within the first four rounds – getting him on the back foot and jabbing.
“We knew his physique would slow his feet down. Pitters has got massive arms and the lactic acid had made them drop lower and lower in the Dec Spelman and Chad Sugden fights. Then his chin is up in the air.
“We had a gameplan and rounds nine to 12 is when we were going to really stick it on him.
“I think Pitters only landed two right hands. Craig has been sparring Lawrence Okolie and people like that. Craig has got a mental chin – like granite. He told me: ‘Pitters can’t punch.”
Richards was already ranked eighth in the world by the WBA and he won their Continental belt in that victory over Ball in February 2019.
Croydon’s Joshua Buatsi is listed at number two in the same governing body and holds the WBA International strap.
Both South Londoners are under the promotional banner of Matchroom Boxing which should, in theory, make it an easy bout to negotiate.
Hennessy Sports won the purse bids to stage the Pitters-Richards clash as the Birmingham fighter is in their stable – with the main event shown on Channel 5.
Sims said: “Buatsi will probably go for a world title fight if one comes up. But it is a fight we would take. It is a big fight and a dangerous fight – for both of them.
“After Buatsi’s last performance I wouldn’t put him miles ahead of Craig. He looked very limited.
“We’ll speak to Eddie Hearn [Matchroom Sport managing director] and see what he can bring to the table. We’ll probably go into the top five in the WBA after that win.
“Lyndon Arthur has got the Commonwealth title. That would also be a good fight.
“We aren’t calling anyone out, but the options are quite interesting.”
Richards is 16-1-1 in the paid ranks with his only reverse to Frank Buglioni in 2017, when he got a British title crack at late notice.
Richards said: “I want to move forward. I want to fight fights that are going to benefit me from now on – rather than benefit others.
“The WBA will update their rankings at the beginning of January and I know I’ll be moving higher. I’m also in the top 15 with the IBF, so I’ve got a lot of cards to play with now.”
A right to the head dropped Pitters to the canvas in the fourth round but he soaked up some more heavy shots to survive that scare.
But there was no coming back in the ninth. Initially a right hand wilted him on the ropes with the challenger producing a spectacular left hook to end proceedings.
“I didn’t go through all my gears,” said Richards. “I was just beginning to move through them in the ninth and I got him out of there.
“There were things I could’ve done a lot better. I’d probably give the performance a seven [out of 10].
“I wanted to get a knockout. I was boxing on Channel 5 and you aren’t just going to get hardcore fans watching – there will be a lot of casuals too. I’m not saying they don’t appreciate boxing skills, but they really want to see a knockout.”
PICTURES: HENNESSY SPORTS
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