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Eddie Hearn planning Buatsi vs. Dmitry Bivol in February 2022

Dmitry Bivol boxing photo

By Charles Brun: Mastermind Eddie Hearn is already mapping out Joshua Buatsi’s future on planning on having him challenge Dmitry Bivol for his WBA light heavyweight title in February or March of next year at the O2 Arena in London.

Buatsi is now the mandatory challenger for the unbeaten Bivol (18-0, 11 KOs), following the 28-year-old Joshua’s eleventh round knockout victory over #3 Ricards Bolotniks (18-6-1, 8 KOs) last Saturday night in a WBA 175-lb title eliminator victory at the Matchroom HQ in Brentwood, Essex.

Bolotniks hung tough in there, but eventually, Buatsi’s power was too much, as he dropped the Latvian in rounds six and eleven with big shots.

The fight was stopped after Buatsi poleaxed the 31-year-old Bolotniks with a right hand to the head in the 11th round. Given how hurt Bolotniks was, there would be not getting up to continue fighting Buatsi (15-0, 13 KOs).

Hearn feels that the fight with Bolotniks was perfect preparation for Buatsi to get ready for a title shot against Bivol.

However, he plans for Buatsi to fight once more near the end of the year in the United States before matching him against WBA 175lb champion Bivol in the first quarter of 2022.

Buatsi to fight Bivol at the O2 in 2022

“That was the perfect bit of match-making; that was the perfect fight. Not the perfect bit of match-making because it was an easy fight but because it shows us how good he [Buatsi] is and it shows us that he’s ready and he’s ready for a world title now,” said Eddie Hearn to iFL TV on Buatsi’s win over Bolotnik last Saturday night.

Dmitry Bivol boxing photo

I see him [Buatsi] having one more towards the end of the year in America and then Bivol at the O2 in February or March of next year. It’s the perfect fight.

“Let’s be honest. There are so many belts in boxing at the moment, alright. If you win a world championship at 175 lbs, you’ve earned it, and you deserve it.

Dmitry Bivol, Beterbiev, Joe Smith, these are quality fighters. So let’s get behind Joshua Buatsi, who I believe is another [potential future] world champion from Britain,” Hearn said of Buatsi on his plans.

Buatsi’s performance against Bolotniks didn’t prove that he’s ready for a fighter as talented as the 30-year-old Bivol in the eyes of many boxing fans on social media.

Although Buatsi got the victory, he was getting hit too much, and he gassed out terribly after he knocked Bolotniks down in the sixth. Buatsi went for the knockout and completely emptied his gas tank in going all out, trying to end it.

A better match-up for Buatsi would be to challenge WBO light heavyweight champion Joe Smith Jr.  (27-3, 21 KOs) for his title.

With that said, that would be a harder fight to put together, as Smith Jr isn’t signed with Hearn, and his promoter might not be open to making the fight with Buatsi.

Also, it’s a dangerous fight for Buatsi compared to Bivol, as Joe Smith Jr is a huge puncher who would be a real threat with every shot he throws. Buatsi looked vulnerable against Bolotniks last Saturday, and he’s not nearly the same type of puncher as Smith Jr is.

Perhaps that’s why Hearn isn’t as eager at matching Buatsi against Smith Jr as he is against Bivol, who isn’t a big knockout artist.

Against Bivol, Buatsi would have a chance of winning rounds based on being the stronger guy. So even if Bivol is outboxing Buatsi, the Brit could win rounds in theory based on his harder shots.

Obviously, Hearn planning on staging the Bivol vs. Buatsi fight in England at the O2 Arena in London could help JB when it comes to the scoring.

Hearn talks Buatsi beating Bivol, Beterbiev & Smith Jr.

He’s tough as nails, can punch, is exciting, always likes to have a tear up, and actually doesn’t need to—a great, great fight. Yes, the answer is to steer him [Buatsi] towards a world title.

“But first things first. Dmitry Bivol will fight in October, obviously, if Canelo fights Caleb Plant, and then the O2 for Dmitry Bivol [vs. Buatsi].

“It was a world title eliminator; it was #2 [WBA] against #3,” said Hearn about last Saturday’s fight between #2 WBA Buatsi and #3 Bolotniks.

“Bivol is a great champion, and we work with him,” said Hearn to Behind The Gloves when asked about the potential of Buatsi challenging Bivol for his WBA title.

“For me, to get a Brit in a fight like that with that kind of pedigree at the O2 is the kind of nights we want to put on. I think Bivol will fight this year, have one more defense.

“I think Buatsi will fight in the States in November or December, and then I’d like to make the fight [between Bivol and Buatsi].

“And I think if you beat Bivol, Beterbiev, and Joe Smith, you’re a proper world champion. It’s a great division, and I think he’s [Buatsi] ready,” said Hearn.

It’s way too premature for Hearn to be talking about Buatsi running the table to beat Bivol, Beterbiev, and Joe Smith Jr. That’s dream stuff at this point.

Hearn needs to wait and see what happens with Bivol vs. Buatsi before he starts talking about JB beating all three. We don’t know if Buatsi will win his next fight in the States at the end of the year, let alone defeat the big three at 175.

This writer would like to see Buatsi matched against a stiffer test before taking on Bivol.

There’s nothing wrong with Bolotniks; he was very limited and nowhere near the type of fighter Bivol, Beterbiev, or Smith Jr. are.

In his next contest in November or December, Hearn needs to have Buatsi face a better fighter than Bolotniks. These would be excellent choices:

  • Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez
  • Badou Jack
  • Callum Johnson
  • David Benavidez
  • Callum Smith
  • Carlos Gongora
  • David Morrell Jr

Of that bunch, Ramirez, Benavidez, Morrell Jr, or Gongora would be the ideal guys for Hearn to choose from.

Dmitry Bivol boxing photo

I hate to say it, but I see Buatsi losing to all four of them, especially if he were to fight Benavidez. Buatsi is not in the same class as any of those guys, and he would lose.

Unfortunately, I don’t see Hearn matching Buatsi against any of them because his goal is to have him challenge for the title, and if he faces them, he’ll likely lose.

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