Joshua Buatsi not totally ready for ring great Canelo Alvarez or WBA world champion Dmitry Bivol

Joshua Buatsi’s trainer believes the Croydon fighter needs at least one more bout before challenging for a world title.

The 29-year-old won a narrow unanimous decision over Crystal Palace’s Craig Edwards at Greenwich’s 02 Arena last night. It was billed as a WBA world title eliminator.

Buatsi is highly ranked by every single major governing body.

It was the first time that he had gone the 12-round distance as he improved his record to 16-0.

Buatsi is based in California and trained by Virgil Hunter, who has worked with top fighters like Andre Ward and Amir Khan.

Asked if Buatsi was ready to step in the ring with either Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez or WBA world champion Dmitry Bivol, Hunter said: “I can’t honestly say that right now because being at the world title level, there are just some things that I need to see. But he will always be in the fight, trust me. I’m not saying he would lose to Canelo or Bivol. I think he’d give Canelo fits – his physicality would give him fits and he’d wear Canelo down.

“Bivol does some things that we should work on some more and make him complete. Give him the opportunity to win a belt and keep a belt, not just fight for it and go back down.

“It was a good performance. There’s a lot of things we have to work on but his grit and determination pulled through. But, as a trainer, you’re never satisfied. That’s my job, not to be satisfied. Otherwise he wouldn’t get better.

“The fight did show me what we need to work on. Maybe he is a fight away, or so, for a title. You want him to be complete when he goes for that title, not just because he is in a position to fight for one. He’s not far away. The body work was exceptional tonight.

Matchroom Boxing Joshua Buatsi v Craig Richards :
WBA World Light-Heavyweight Title Eliminator
, The O2 Arena, London, 21 May 2022
Picture : Keith Gillard

“I had a few people come up to me and say they had never seen him work to the body like that before. That’s what we been working on. As you know, I teach body shots. Overall we got the win and I’m proud of his determination and grit.”

Buatsi was quick to praise Richards after an intense clash which saw both men absorb some heavy punches. The victor appeared to be at least partially stunned by a big punch in the eighth but then came back strongly as the pair traded before the bell.

“Credit to Spider, man,” said Buatsi. “He pushed me. I rate him. Like I said in the ring, you have rivals that push you but you never expect them to be around the same level as you – well I didn’t anyway.

“I’m not saying I underestimated him, but we did 12 hard rounds. I have maximum respect for him.

“There was a moment where I was like ‘ooh, he landed a good shot there. Be careful Josh, be careful’.

“I learned a lot. I have to watch it back. Join V [Virgil Hunter] back in the States, sit down with him and see what he thought about it. I know there is work to be done, I’ll be on it man. It was a good 12 rounds in the bank for me.

Matchroom Boxing Joshua Buatsi v Craig Richards :
WBA World Light-Heavyweight Title Eliminator
, The O2 Arena, London, 21 May 2022
Picture : Keith Gillard

“I boxed him in the amateurs over three rounds, I knew this was 12 and I prepared for 12. I’m not saying I came here thinking it would be less than 12. It went the distance, so I had to be there every round.

“We’re from round here. There were familiar faces in the crowd. When there are familiar faces here, I wanted to end up on top. That’s what happened.

“Tomorrow morning [Sunday] I’ll wake up and be aching but I’ll have got the win. That’s the most important thing.

“I have no preference [which world champion to face].”




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