Daniel Blenda Dos Santos knows he needs to produce his best to wrench the WBA International light-heavyweight title away from Joshua Buatsi tonight.
Croydon’s Buatsi is 13-0 with 11 stoppages. His French opponent also has a perfect record, with eight early finishes on a 15-0 ledger.
Dos Santos said: “This is the opportunity of my life. We know Joshua is a great champion and for me it’s a great opportunity – I appreciate the chance of being here.
“Boxing saved my life, a guy like me is supposed to be in jail or dead. Thank God I had the opportunity to leave prison, make a real change in my life and become a professional fighter. I changed 100 per cent of my life, my city, everything, now all this work and dedication I’m in this place right now. I have to enjoy the moment.
“I have to be the best version of myself to beat Joshua Buatsi. That’s what I’m going to try Saturday night.”
Buatsi responded: “I’m ready to fight. I started from nothing as well, moved from Ghana to England. I always tell people when I fight, I’ve got nothing to lose, I’m gaining everything and when I go in there the mentalily is different. I’ll be there to fight to, I’m there to fight and protect the little that I have.
“I keep laughing when I say this, prior to a fight you say you’re willing to do anything, but when it was time in the ring when that happened, I had to show up for it and I felt I gave a good account and got the win. Saturday night I’ll be there to do whatever it takes to win because I’m in here to fight. We’ll see how it goes.
“I think if you ask anyone, and they don’t say it, they must be thinking differently. You’re Eddie Hearn right, you’re sitting here, and I think you feel like you’ve signed the best light-heavyweight in the country – that speak for itself. For the others, they’re doing well, I’m doing what I’m doing and hopefully one day we can all get in and fight to see. For now, my man next door is who I’ve got to deal with, that’s what I’m concentrating on.
“It’s been good having Virgil on board, amazing, I said I could have 100 coaches in my corner but when that bell rings it’s just you. Nevertheless, having this man here added to the team, we’ll see how it goes – it’ll be good.”
Buatsi has moved Stateside to be trained by Virgil Hunter, who worked with American ring great Andre Ward.
Hunter said: “I’ve been exposed to some of the UK’s greatest fighters that I’ve had a chance to meet as well as work with. Joshua Buatsi is no exception to that, I think he’s a major talent, I think he has a tremendous upside, I’m hoping I can do everything to cultivate that and turn him into a world champion.
“I think Joshua will apply some of the thing we worked on and show Saturday night that he’s been a good student.
“Anytime that you have the opportunity to fight a medallist from the Olympics, that medal has a bullseye on his back. He’s going to get a hungry opponent, that opponent is going to be dead serious because he knows it can change the trajectory of his career. We don’t have much footage on Dos Santos, but we take him serious on what we have seen, that he is a good fighter and to be taken serious, that’s how we’re approaching the fight.”
PHOTOS: MARK ROBINSON/MATCHROOM BOXING
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