BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Joshua Buatsi knows he could have been knocking on the door for a world title shot if Covid-19 had not changed the boxing landscape – but the Croydon fighter isn’t about to start feeling sorry for himself.
The 27-year-old is set to end more than 13 months out of the ring when he defends his WBA International light-heavyweight title against Marko Calic on Sunday.
Buatsi, a bronze medallist for GB at the 2016 Olympics, is ranked third by the WBA. Jean Pascal is that governing body’s world champion with Dimitry Bivol of Russia their ‘super’ champion.
The South Londoner boxed three times in 2019 but illness made him pull out of a November clash with Australia’s Blake Caparello in a title eliminator before the pandemic struck.
“You can look at all the negatives but it’s what perspective you want to view it from, and I’m always from the positive side,” said Buatsi.
“If you think of the negatives it will be overwhelming and who knows where it leads to? I’ve always been grateful for the situation I’m in. When I look back I can say: “I’ve done this and done that”. It’s just about adding to it.
“If I’d had two or three fights this year then I’d have been closer to a world title in the middle of next year. But I’m fit, strong, healthy and injury free – that’s more than enough for me. The past is the past, this is the situation I’m in. I’ve had 12 fights and won 12. There’s no stain on the record, some fighters take a few bumps straight away.”
Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn would like to put Buatsi in with former Commonwealth champion Callum Johnson, 35. The Boston puncher (18-1) lost an IBF world title challenge in 2018.
Arguably even more enticing is a domestic showdown with Anthony Yarde (20-1), but he is promoted by Frank Warren on a rival TV network.
Not that Buatsi wastes a lot of time pondering what future moves will happen.
“It’s not something at the forefront of my mind,” he said. “I’m aware people want to see it and I’d love to be involved in it – if it happens great. If it doesn’t then I keep moving on, and so does he.
“My ambition is to win my next fight, it’s no further than that. It’s very, very short term.”
Croatian Calic is intent on causing an upset. The 33-year-old has dropped down from campaigning as a heavyweight in the amateur ranks.
“I expect that Buatsi will come forward and take the fight to me,” said Calic. “I will try to counterpunch him, but I will also be ready to fight fire with fire.
“One of my main strengths is that I am taller than most of my opponents. I am also a very good technical boxer with a high boxing IQ.
“Beating Buatsi would be huge for my career. It would make me well known in the boxing community and open a lot of doors for me. Eddie Hearn is the best boxing promoter in the world right now and his events get a lot of attention. I will prove myself on the big stage. This win will mean a lot for me.”
Sunday’s show will be shown live on Sky Sports.
PICTURES: MARK ROBINSON/MATCHROOM BOXING
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