Joshua Buatsi uncorked a huge right hand to finally end the resistance of Ricards Bolotniks as he overcame the toughest test of his professional career in the final main event of 2021’s Fight Camp. 

Whatever Buatsi threw at Bolotniks, the Latvian soaked it up and kept coming back. At one point, after Buatsi had dropped him in the sixth round, the former Olympian seemed to punch himself to a virtual standstill.  

The pressure and cumulative effect finally took a toll, though, as Buatsi finished the job in the eleventh round. 

Bolotniks was seen as a dangerous fight for Buatsi, if one he was expected to come comfortably through. Big things are expected of the 2016 Olympic bronze medal-winner, whom Hearn feels should be leading the younger crop of leading British boxers. 

If Hearn had his way, Buatsi could have been challenging Dmitry Bivol for the Russian’s WBA light-heavyweight title about now. But Virgil Hunter, who took over as Buatsi’s trainer earlier this year, expressed caution. While this was an eliminator for that title, Buatsi could find himself in a queue with Bivol being touted as a potential opponent for Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in October. 

Buatsi is a charming character. Quiet, always polite, but a brute when the bell sounds. The only time he ever seems to shave is on the day he fights, so every publicity shot of his comes complete with a shaggy beard, giving him only a passing resemblance to the man in the ring.  

Hunter and Buatsi seem a good match. The American is best known for his work with Amir Khan. What Buatsi had over Khan, according to Hunter, is dedication. After his last win in May, he was back at Hunter’s gym across the Bay from San Francisco within three weeks, rather than waiting for a fight to be confirmed first.  

The trainer, best known for his work with world super-middleweight and light-heavyweight champion Andre Ward, flew into London on Wednesday predicting big this for Buatsi. “This is his time,” Hunter said. 

Skillwise, Bolotniks was several levels below Buatsi, but what he lacked in niceties, he made up for in power and roughness. Hunter gave Buatsi strict instructions not to leave any openings. He set about forcing Bolotniks back, using a powerful jab, looking for openings, while Bolotniks seemed to be pinning all his hopes on a big right hand. 

Midway through the second round, Buatsi landed two body shots that made Bolotniks wince. The Latvian did get through with some punches, but Buatsi’s punches were shorter, sharper, more powerful and accurate. 

In the fourth round, with Bolotniks’s left eye swelling shut, Buatsi went after him. One attack was ended when he was warned for a low punch, but just before the bell he staggered Bolotniks with an overhand right and then a left hook. 

Midway through the sixth round, a wide left hook dropped Boltoniks. Buatsi went for the finish, but somehow Bolotnniks soaked up his follow up attack and kept moving around the ring, long enough for Buatsi to worry about punching himself out. 

After a subdued seventh round, Buatsi went for it again in the eighth, but Bolotniks’s power of survival were not about to desert him and when Buatsi was docked a point following a third warning for a low punch, he looked frustrated. 

Another attack at the end of the tenth, saw Bolotniks hurt again. But whatever he threw, Bolotniks took it and kept punching back. 

The end finally came in the eleventh. Two big rights had Bolotniks backtracking and as the Latvian pulled back, Buatsi measured him with a right that sent him crashing to the floor, referee Howard foster waving it off instantly at 2:08 of the eleventh round.