Joshua Buatsi sent out a statement to his light heavyweight rivals with a spiteful victory over Ricards Bolotniks at Fight Camp on Saturday.
Buatsi knocked out MTK Golden Contract winner, Bolotniks with a stunning right hand in the eleventh round to secure the biggest win of his professional career thus far and edge closer to a world title shot.
The undefeated Londoner used his jab to great effect throughout to keep his rival at bay, however the Latvian remained competitive and tested the home favourite with some accurate overhand rights especially in the early stages.
Buatsi found the breakthrough in the sixth round, knocking down ‘The Lion’ with a huge left hook which sent him crashing to the canvas.
However, to his credit the 31-year-old rose back to his feet and weathered the onslaught as the Brit attempted to finish proceedings swiftly.
‘JB’ appeared to run out of steam in the following rounds, such was his effort in the sixth, but the 28-year-old gained potentially valuable ring experience with an experienced contender like Bolotniks for four more rounds, before finding the finish in the eleventh.
It was an impressive, versatile display from Buatsi who claimed a second victory under trainer Virgil Hunter, proving that his power can carry through to the latter rounds having gone past seven for the first time in his career.
Bigger tests will certainly lie ahead, but the 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist is seemingly fulfilling his potential and is now on the verge of a world title opportunity with a ranking of #2 with the WBA behind undefeated ‘super’ champion, Dmitry Bivol.
Whilst, Buatsi finds himself in a thriving British scene with the likes of Craig Richards, Lyndon Arthur, Anthony Yarde and Callum Johnson, promoter Eddie Hearn is lining up a fight in the USA later this year before pushing him onto a world title.
LIGHTS OUT! BOOM, BUATSI! 😲😲 pic.twitter.com/Gv6HvL1ilj
— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) August 14, 2021
“I see him having one more [fight] probably stateside in November or December and then that it it,” Hearn told DAZN.
“We’ll see if Bivol holds onto his championship, that is a fantastic fight.
“Joshua Buatsi against Dmitry Bivol at the O2, that’s the kind of fight that can make him a real star.
“I feel like he’s ready now but I do see him having one more run out in December.”
So, who could Buatsi face before moving onto a world title?
Badou Jack was mentioned as a potential opponent by several fans on social media post-fight.
Jack (24-3-3, 14 KOs) is a former two-weight world champion having held world titles at super middleweight and light heavyweight in the past.
The Swede is familiar to the UK audience having beaten both George Groves and Nathan Cleverly, whilst he fought to a majority draw with James De Gale.
The 37-year-old has won his previous two fights, most recently on the undercard to promoter Floyd Mayweather’s exhibition with Logan Paul in June, following successive defeats to Marcus Browne and Jean Pascal.
Jack was supposed to rematch Pascal on the card, however the Canadian reportedly failed multiple VADA tests prior to the bout and was stripped of his WBA ‘Regular’ belt with ‘The Ripper’ instead stopping Dervin Colina in four rounds.
The Las Vegas resident has bags of experience and would be a perfect world level test for Buatsi and a bout could feasibly be sanctioned for the vacant title.
However, Jack did hint at plans to move up in weight to become a three-weight world champion, so it remains to be seen if he would be keen to tackle the Brit and would hinge on whether a deal could be reached, with both fighters with different promoters and campaigning on rival networks.
Marcus Browne could be another option.
Browne (24-1, 16 KOs) is closing in on a world title tilt himself, ranked as the number one contender with the WBC behind champion, Artur Beterbiev who also holds the IBF belt.
It is unclear who Beterbiev will face next, however the 30-year-old could be forgiven for awaiting his opportunity instead of risking his position.
However, the New York man has only fought since once since his sole defeat to Pascal – an eighth round technical decision after an accidental headbutt – and a meeting with Buatsi would be a solid test before challenging for world honours, whilst for ‘JB’ a chance to boost his fanbase stateside against a recognised name and tough operator.
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The 30-year-old is a tricky southpaw and perhaps not the best preparation for an orthodox fighter like Bivol, but would be a good gauge of where Buatsi is at and if he is ready to tackle the Russian afterwards.
Browne is under the Premier Boxing Champions stable, fighting on FOX and a deal could be difficult to reach, with Buatsi aligned with Matchroom and DAZN.
Former world champion, Eleider Alvarez could be a possible alternative.
Alvarez (25-2, 13 KOs) has mixed with some of the best 175lb fighters throughout his career, beating Sergey Kovalev with a stunning seventh round stoppage in 2018 to rip away the WBO belt, before losing the immediate rematch.
The ’Storm’ also has standout victories over Pascal and Luican Bute, but is coming off a ninth round knockout loss to now-WBO titlist, Joe Smith Jr last August.
Alvarez, like Jack is approaching the final years of his career at 37-years-old, but has heaps of experience and would prove a stern assignment for the Brit.
The Colombian has not fought since his reverse to Smith Jr and a match-up with the rising British contender would provide him with the opportunity to catapult himself back into world title contention, whilst providing the latter with another crucial learning fight.
Let us know who you would like to see Buatsi face next?