By Elliot Foster
Joshua Buatsi has turned professional and will make his debut next month.
The 24-year-old Brit, who has finished his degree since winning his light-heavyweight bronze medal at the Olympic Games, links up with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing.
Buatsi will make his bow in the paid code on July 1, exclusively live on Sky Sports, at the O2 Arena in London.
He will fight on the undercard of Frank Buglioni's British light-heavyweight title defence against Ricky Summers which also features an English title battle between super-welterweight pair Matthew Ryan and Ted Cheeseman as well as a plethora of other young talent.
“We have an outstanding talent in Joshua Buatsi,” said promoter Hearn –– who revealed that his latest recruit will box eight times in his first year as a pro –– at a press conference on Monday where his signing to the Matchroom team was confirmed. “He'll be on all our major shows and we will push him to the top.”
Buatsi follows fellow Rio Olympians Joe Cordina, Lawrence Okolie, Anthony Fowler and Josh Kelly in turning professional. The quartet –– along with Buatsi –– have signed terms with Brentwood-based Matchroom and the aforementioned Okolie will be among those on the ‘Summertime Brawl’ bill on which Buatsi will make his debut.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Buatsi. “I got the medal ten months ago but I didn’t just disappear. After coming back from Rio I needed to finish my degree and the get back into the gym. I've been in the gym for a few months now, my head is clear, I know what is next. I’ve made the right decision to team up with Eddie Hearn, Matchroom Boxing and Sky Sports and I’m so excited for the journey.
“My Mum and Dad wanted me to finish my education, I came back from Rio and had a year left, I didn’t want to turn my back on university. Boxing has always been my plan A and university wasn’t a plan, it was something that I was able to do while boxing – but everything about me is boxing.
“It seems a long time ago that I was an amateur. This is the next stage and there’s competition out there, everyone wants to be number one, we're all hungry. The pro game is so different from the amateurs, you have to entertain, and it’s not a bed of roses. It's a brutal sport but I’ve prepared myself physically and mentally for it.
“It’s more of a fight in the pros. Two men fighting with smaller gloves and I think it will suit me, let your hands go, keep your hands up and don’t blink. I know I only have to concentrate on one guy in the pros, not the guy the following day – six rounds to get rid of someone and I know that I will get to them in that time.
“There’s a lot for me to learn but I’m eager and hungry to do just that. I feel I have to prove myself and go and grab everything with both hands, that’s my mentality so let the show begin.”
Reece Bellotti looks to build on his impressive British featherweight title eliminator win over Dai Davies in March on the card, while Okolie will be joined by potential future cruiserweight foe Isaac Chamberlain.
Conor Benn is set to return from injury and there’s action for Southern Area super-middleweight champion Craig Richards, Danny Dignum and Jake Ball.