Joshua Buatsi defended his WBA International Light Heavyweight title for a sixth time at the AO Arena in Manchester, as he topped the bill with a devastating fourth round knockout win against France’s previously unbeaten Daniel Dos Santos.
Joshua Buatsi v Daniel Dos Santos
2016 Olympic Bronze Medallist Buatsi was under the watchful eye of famed trainer, Virgil Hunter for the first time, and he was coming off a seventh round stoppage win against Marko Calic in his last outing in October 2020, in what was a rusty display.
Dos Santos came into the contest with ‘JB’ with a 15-0 record, compiled against low level opposition in his homeland.
Buatsi began with authority, firing in sharp punches in the opening round and stalking his opponent with intent, while Dos Santos was the opposite, nervy and unable to land much in the first frame.
With just over a minute gone in round two, Buatsi upped his work rate, and floored the visitor with a flurry of punches. Dos Santos was more startled than anything, and beat the count to continue.
The Frenchman was definitely in retreat, and was caught by more punches to end the session.
Dos Santos was warned about deductions in the third as he rugby tackled Buatsi to the floor, which angered the Croydon-based champion, but that was as lively as the round got.
Dos Santos’ balance was all over the place, and it was a matter of time before Buatsi exploited it, and he duly did midway through the fourth, as a massive right hand over the top crumpled the challenger on impact to his chin, and Buatsi also connected with another right hand as Dos Santos fell, and the fight was waved off.
Thankfully, an emotional Dos Santos made it back to his feet after a short delay, and, visibly upset, he was consoled by his opponent post fight in a great show of compassion.
“We’ve seen unknown opponents come and win before, so I was focused and learned on the job,” said the victor to Sky Sports.
“I just landed the right shot at the right time. I’m happy I got the win, and I hope he (Dos Santos) is ok.
“I spoke to Eddie [Hearn] this week, and I’d like to be back out June or July time”.
“July 17th in America, or 24th or 31st July in Fight Camp are the dates we want Joshua to fight next,” said Buatsi’s promoter Eddie Hearn. “We need to find that next level towards world class for him.”
Lerrone Richards v Giovanni De Carolis
Lerrone Richards took the vacant European Super Middleweight title, as the New Malden man dished out a boxing lesson in a near punch perfect points win over former world champion, Giovanni De Carolis.
Richards had previously served as a British and Commonwealth champion, and added the blue belt to his collection in a high quality victory.
The fight went as expected, with Richards’ slick southpaw movement and boxing banking round after round against the rugged Italian, who spent most of the contest chasing his man around the ring, to little effect.
It took the 36-year-old De Carolis until the fifth round to throw and land something meaningful, and it made no real impact as Richards was in full control.
‘Sniper the Boss’ Richards’ boxing was a joy to watch, and he was running rings around the visitor as the fight went past its second half, and the onslaught continued well into the championship rounds. Richards was hitting and not getting hit in its purest form, and he eased his way to the final bell, where the result was academic.
Two scores of 120-108, and a third at 119-109 reflected the new champion’s utter dominance.
Gamal Yafai v Jason Cunningham
Former two-weight Commonwealth champion, Jason Cunningham, ripped the European Super Bantamweight title from Gamal Yafai, as he scored three knockdowns on the way to an inspired and thrilling points win.
Cunningham began brightly, and dominated the opening round with his rangy style. The second saw more disaster for Yafai, as Cunningham floored him with a razor sharp left hand, and the champion was wobbled on rising and beating the count. His left eye was also damaged in a nightmare start.
Gamal knew he had to turn things around quickly, and he closed the range and hit ‘Iceman’ Cunningham with some hard shots in round three that stopped the Yorkshireman’s momentum in its tracks.
It proved a false dawn though, as the challenger again nailed Yafai with a counter left hook that had the Birmingham man on the deck for a second time. Yafai was down once again in the sixth, caught flush by a big overhand left that he just simply couldn’t get out of the way of.
Gamal dug in, and inched his way back into a contest that he looked out of, and the tenth saw a tide turner, as Yafai hurt Cunningham to the body, and he was tiring alarmingly under a wave of attacks.
Cunningham caught a second wind in the penultimate round, and his opponent knew he needed a knockout in the final frame. Try as he might, ‘The Beast’ just couldn’t find the power punches to put his man away, and the absorbing contest went to the scorecards.
Two tallies of 114-111 and a third at 115-110, ensured the Doncaster man was crowned the new champion.
Tommy McCarthy v Alexandru Jur
Tommy McCarthy’s maiden defence of his European Cruiserweight title that he won in October 2020 ended in victory, as the Irishman knocked out Alexandru Jur in the sixth round.
McCarthy scored a heavy knockdown in the fourth, as he felled Jur with a perfectly timed left to the body, that the Romanian did well to get up from, and two rounds later, Jur was over again from a similar punch, this time a whipping left to the mid-section, and this time, he was unable to beat the count, declaring ‘Mac Attack’ a comfortable winner.
Dalton Smith v Lee Appleyard
The vacant English Super Lightweight title was claimed by Dalton Smith, who thoroughly outclassed Lee Appleyard in a one-sided sixth round stoppage win.
Sheffield’s Smith pretty much did as he pleased as he teed off on his Yorkshire rival Appleyard at regular intervals, and there was an argument for Lee’s corner to pull their man out sooner, but the end finally came at the end of the sixth, with Appleyard taking punishment on the ropes, referee Mark Lyson called a halt to the action.
Solomon Dacres v Mladen Manev
The latest Heavyweight hope to make his debut was Solomon Dacres, and the 27-year-old from the West Midlands began life as a professional with a one sided six round points win over the gusty Mladen Manev.
Dacres used the Bulgarian as target practice, but Manev was never seriously hurt throughout the contest, and Dacres had to settle for a 60-54 win for scoring official, John Latham.