Joshua Buatsi is ready to show what he learnt during his first camp with Virgil Hunter when he faces Daniel Dos Santos in Manchester on Saturday night. The first lesson, he said was about treating a fight like robbing a house.
Buatsi, the unbeaten light heavyweight, spent eight weeks in the Bay Area working with Hunter and he believes the mental lessons he was taught will be as important as any other work he did.
“The metaphors they use to explain things is different to how we explain things,” Buatsi said.
“For example, when you’re trying to pick your shots, you don’t go full steam. Virgil says it’s like robbing a house. You need to check if the front door is open, if the back windows are open, if the back door is open.
“He teaches you think what’s open, what’s available and then you take that opening to get into the house.
“So, you don’t just start throwing haymakers. You touch and touch to see what’s available and when an opening becomes available, you take it. It made sense to me.”
Buatsi, the WBO No 2, has boxed just once in the past 33 months, so he is hopefully a victory over Dos Santos will be followed by another fight in July or possibly on the Anthony Joshua-Tyson Fury bill as he looks to get his world title ambitions on track.
He is seeing teaming up with Hunter as a long-term thing and has been open to what his new trainer has spotted.
“When I was working with him. He would say ‘Josh, that’s good, but don’t make this mistake again. You will get away with it now, but where you’re going to, you won’t get away with it, so you need to stop doing it’.
“It’s not just about my next fight or two or three fights, it’s about getting to the highest level and we have to do it right.”
Hunter was not the only one handing out tips. Andre Ward is a frequent visitor to the gym too and while Buatsi was nervous about pushing him for advice early on, he did manage to get some pointers.
“He said it’s important to get the work in, but it’s important to rest as well and let the work you’ve done, get the rewards through recovery,” Buatsi said.
Buatsi’s admiration of Hunter goes back to watching Ward when Buatsi was an amateur.
“I watched a bit of Ward and I thought I like this style,” Buatsi said.
“I then saw Virgil at the AJ-Ruiz card, I said ‘Virgil, I’d love to train with you one day’. He said the door was always open.
“We already have a guy on our team, the 258 Management team, who works with him in Souleymane Cissokho, so the team just reached out to him after my last fight and that was it.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.