Joshua Buatsi knocked Daniel Dos Santos out cold in the fourth round of their light heavyweight fight in Manchester, to blow away some ring rust and keep on track to what could be some big fights later this year.
Boxing for only the second time in 33 months, Buatsi was having his first fight since teaming up with trainer Virgil Hunter. It was not an ideal evening as Dos Santos proved an awkward opponent. The ending, though, was brutal.
Dos Santos, from France, was unbeaten in 15 fights, but had never been in more than a six-rounder before, so was taking a huge leap in class.
Buatsi, who is ranked No 2 by the WBA and in the top seven by the other three governing bodies, had a notable height disadvantage and spent the first round sizing up Dos Santos.
The first sign of intent from Buatsi and Dos Santos went into survival mode. A sturdy right hand, followed by a left hook had him collapsing to the floor in the second round and then he clung on when Buatsi got close to see out the round.
Buatsi’s toughest task was to land cleanly against an opponent, who was moving, ducking and a tangle of arms. The one time in the third that Dos Santos did try to exchange, he was clocked with a left hook. He then rugby tackled Buatsi to the floor, whipping his legs from under him in a clinch, which infuriated Buatsi.
But Dos Santos was proving an annoying opponent, moving away, holding and refusing to engage. Stuck in a neutral corner, Buatsi measured him with a brutal right hook, landing another right as Dos Santos fell limp to the canvas. Referee Victor Loughlin waved the fight off without a count. The official time was 2:44 of the fourth round.
Buatsi plans to be out again in July or August, declaring his hope that he could be on the August 14 undercard of the Anthony Joshua-Tyson Fury world heavyweight title fight.