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Joshua Buatsi one fight away from Dimitry Bivol title shot

Image: Joshua Buatsi one fight away from Dimitry Bivol title shot

By William Lloyd: One more step-up opponent is needed for unbeaten light heavyweight contender Joshua Buatsi (14-0, 12 KOs) before he’ll be ready to challenge WBA 175-lb champion Dimitry Bivol for his title, says promoter Eddie Hearn.

Buatsi, 28, did extremely well last Saturday night, stopping Daniel Blenda Dos Santos (15-1, 8 KOs) in a highlight reel fourth round at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England.

The punching power and the wide assortment of punches that Buatsi used to batter and stop the 30-year-old Dos Santos were extraordinary.

Other than Artur Beterbiev and Joe Smith Jr, there aren’t any light heavyweights in the division that possess the power that Buatsi showed, but those fighters are considerably slower in hand speed.

Hearn says he’s going to leave it up to Buatsis’ new trainer Virgil Hunter to decide how many more fights are needed before he’s ready to challenge Bivol (18-0, 11 KOs) for his WBA title. Still, he prefers that he face the Russian fighter after one more step-up if it were up to him.

For Buatsi to show that he’s ready for Bivol after one more fight, he’s going to need to be matched against a true top 10 level contender, preferably a top 5 guy.

These would be good options for Buatsi:

  • Marcus Browne
  • Jesse Hart
  • Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez
  • Maxim Vlasov
  • Craig Richards

Hearn wants Buatsi to challenge Bivol soon

“It’s one of those a fighter comes in and is relatively unknown, we know he can fight, he’s fit,” said Hearn to Boxing Social about Dos Santos being knocked out by Buatsi.

Image: Joshua Buatsi one fight away from Dimitry Bivol title shot

“You saw his reaction when he woke up. It was the devastation of the fight. He wanted to win the fight. You got to go about your business as Buatsi did, and I thought he fought really well.

“He got hit a little bit because Dos Santos was a little bit awkward and rangy. But a brutal knockout, a great way to finish it, and a good way to come back seven months out of action with a new trainer [Virgil Hunter].

Time to kick on now. I’m very thoughtful about the fact that I don’t want to miss his [Buatso] peak moments to win a world title.

“He’s 28 now, he’s teamed up with Virgil Hunter, and he’ll probably want three more fights with him before he fights for a world title.

“I would like one, but I’ll do as I’m told. I just feel like if he fought [Dimitry] Bivol now, who would you back? It’s going to be one of them,” Hearn said of Buatsi.

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Hearn was asked by one of the interviewers his thoughts on Buatsi using Craig Richards as his step-up opponent, and he didn’t respond. It looks like Hearn wants to keep Richards in a different lane than Buatsi because he’s an incredible talent as well.

The perfect step-up opponent needed

“Craig Richards done brilliantly against him,” Hearn said about Bivol. “I just feel like Buatsi is a real talent, but we need to get that opponent next time around that is between Dos Santos and Bivol.

Image: Joshua Buatsi one fight away from Dimitry Bivol title shot

“There are many levels between them, but we have got to get someone that shows Virgil that he’s ready for that test because you can’t beat Dos Santos and say, ‘He’s ready for a world title.’

“You can say he has the ability to win a world title, but he hasn’t had a win that will make you know for sure that he’s ready.

“I think when you have a fighter as good as Joshua Buatsi, you don’t just toss a coin and say, ‘Well if he’s good enough, he’s good enough.’

“You want to prepare him the right way because he can really fight. It was a showreel knockout, and he did what he was supposed to do.

“He done a good clinical performance against a fighter that was a level below,” said Hearn in reflecting on Joshua’s win over Dos Santos.

With Buatsi closing in on his 29th birthday, it’s important that Virgil Hunter and Hearn not wait too long. They want to miss their window of opportunity by waiting longer than necessary.

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