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Callum Johnson welcomes Joshua Buatsi fight


By Jeff Aranow: British light heavyweight champion Callum Johnson (17-1, 12 KOs) says he’d be willing to defend his title against unbeaten Joshua Buatsi (8-0, 6 KOs following the move by the British Boxing Board of Control to order him to defend the title against the 25-year-old.

Johnson hopes to fight next month against an opponent still to be determined on the undercard of Dillian Whyte vs. Dereck Chisora card on December 22 on Sky Box Office.

Johnson, 33, lost his last fight to International Boxing Federation light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (13-0, 13 KOs) by a 4th round knockout last month on DAZN at the Wintrust Arena, Chicago, Illinois. Johnson shockingly knocked Beterbiev down in the 2nd round, and had him hurt. Johnson chose not to try and finish Beterbiev off, believing that he wasn’t that hurt. That turned out to be a big mistake on Johnson’s part, because it allowed Beterbiev to come back and knock him out in the 4th. It was thought that Johnson would vacate his British 175 lb title after the Beterbiev fight, and instead focus on going after the European title belt. Facing Buatsi would keep Johnson at the domestic level. Whether he wants to stay at that level at 33 is the big question. Johnson is a little up there in age to still be fighting at the domestic level though.

This would be a risky fight for Buatsi to take after just eight fights as a pro. Buatsi has certainly looked very impressive lately in stopping his last two opponents Tony Averlant and Andrejs Pokumeiko in the 1st round, but it’s a different story in facing a puncher like Callum Johnson. He could just as easily turn the tables on Buatsi and knock him out in the 1st round.

“The Buatsi fight does interest me and if that fight is going to happen, it will happen,” Johnson said to “I believe I can knock anybody out in the world, even Beterbiev, Buatsi is no different.”

Johnson’s promoter Eddie Hearn might prefer to have him go after a European title rather than going backwards from fighting for a world title to defending his domestic level title. There would be interest from boxing fans locally in a fight between Johnson and the prospect Buatsi, but it’s not a fight that will do anything for Callum on the world scene. He needs to fight better opposition than this.

Buatsi is a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist. He was beaten by Adilbek Niyazymbetov (Kazakhstan) by a 3-0 score in the Olympics. In the 2015 AIBA World Championships, Buatsi was beaten by Julio Cesar la Cruz (Cuba) by a 3-0 score. Buatsi is a good fighter, but obviously a cut below the level that he needs to be for him to win world titles at light heavyweight. Mixing it up with Johnson at this early stage would be a move that would be filled with risk for Buatsi. He might not be ready to take on a guy of Johnson’s class right now. Ultimately, it’ll be up to Hearn whether he wants to make the Johnson vs. Buatsi fight.

A fight between Buatsi and Johnson would be interesting. It might come down to which of them lands first. Buatsi can be out-boxed though, which would make him vulnerable to Johnson if he chooses to box from the outside.

Johnson is ranked #15 by the International Boxing Federation. He’d like to take part in a title eliminator if possible, but that might not realistic given his low ranking with the IBF and his recent loss to Beterbiev. Johnson needs to get some wins under his belt to get pushed up the IBF’s ranking so that he can be put in an IBF title eliminator. Johnson would also like a title shot against European Boxing Union light heavyweight champion Dominic Boesel. That would be a winnable fight for Johnson if he could get it. There are other guys ranked above Johnson in the EBU’s rankings. Johnson is counting being able to get another title shot. He wants another crack at a world title by the end of 2019. Hearn would have to do some maneuvering to get Johnson another title shot at this point.

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