Joshua Buatsi will enter the next stage of his career with a new promoter in tow.
BOXXER has signed the 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist and current light heavyweight contender, the UK-based promotional outfit announced Wednesday. The news ends a lengthy wait of Buatsi’s next move after it was clear that he and Matchroom Boxing—his promoter since his July 2017 pro debut—were no longer on the same page.
“It’s time for business to resume,” Buatsi noted in a promotional piece preceding a press conference in his Croydon, London hometown. “From the roots of Tema, Ghana to the streets of Croydon, London. If you’re 175 pounds, come and holler at me. We’re taking this to the world. The journey to being a world champion is closer than ever.
“Buatsi is BOXXER.”
Buatsi’s debut under the BOXXER banner will headline a May 6 Sky Sports show from Resorts World Arena in Birmingham, England.
“We’re incredibly proud and excited to welcome Joshua Buatsi to the BOXXER stable," BOXXER founder and CEO Ben Shalom said of the signing. "He is an exemplary role model and one of the most talented fighters we have in this country.
“Buatsi wants the biggest fights possible in front of the largest possible audience to achieve his unlimited potential. He feels he wants to make up for lost time and we’re looking forward to sharing this journey with him, as he sets out to bring major nights and titles to Britain.”
An opponent was not named for the occasion. It is clear that Buatsi will not next face WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol, whom Matchroom has repeatedly offered as an opponent for the unbeaten contender. Buatsi’s team was not on board with the fight when first discussed last year, and also rejected a recent, lucrative offer to face the long-reigning titlist and 2022 Fighter of the Year.
All told, it has left Buatsi (16-0, 13KOs) out of the ring since a twelve-round win over Craig Richards last May 14 at The O2 in London. Head trainer Virgil Hunter stated in multiple interviews in saying that he would like to see Buatsi get two more wins en route to challenging the division’s best.
The comment was wrongly scrutinized, though Buatsi hasn’t even fought once in that time, thus stunting his development as he enters his optimal prime. With the rejection of a Bivol fight came heavy speculation that Buatsi would sign with BOXXER.
The understanding of his contract with Matchroom is that the company had the right to match any offer made to the unbeaten boxer to retain his services. That clearly hasn’t taken place as Buatsi is now fully on board with BOXXER.
Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren recently revealed to IFL TV of his own plans to secure the services of Buatsi in an attractive fight with two-time title challenger Anthony Yarde (23-2, 22KOs).
Fellow unbeaten UK light heavyweight Dan Azeez was also present at Wednesday’s press conference, on the heels of a 12th round stoppage of Thomas Faure this past Saturday in Paris. His name was previously floated as a potential future opponent for Buatsi, The two have previously sparred together but seem on board with a potential head-on collision if it comes to that.
Buatsi is ranked number-one by the WBA at light heavyweight, and number-two with both the WBC and WBO.
The latter two belts are held by Artur Beterbiev (19-0, 19KOs), who is also the lineal and IBF champion. He is burdened with at least two mandatory defenses, including a recently-ordered fight with WBC number-one contender Callum Smith.
That would leave Bivol as the only realistic option for a major title at any point this year.
However, Buatsi is confident that he is now on the right path to take on such challenges at his pace.
"I want to get the biggest fights on the biggest, most accessible platform for sports fans," vowed Buatsi. "So that's why I've signed with BOXXER and Sky Sports.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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