Joshua Buatsi Overcomes the Challenge of Craig Richards to Win WBA Eliminator
In the main event at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, unbeaten light heavyweight contender Joshua Buatsi (15-0, 13KOs) took on by far the toughest opponent of his career in world title challenger Craig “Spider” Richards (17-2-1, 10KOs). The fight was of significance as it was a WBA eliminator.
Buatsi, who has been mentioned as a future world champion, has worked hard to get to the point where he is on the verge of a world opportunity. He ranks #6 in the WBO, #2 in the IBF, #4 in the WBC, and #3 in the WBA. Nonetheless, his victory over Richards bodes well for him, as a world title opportunity is now even closer.
Richards had his sole world title shot against WBA champion Dmitry Bivol last May, losing by a unanimous decision. In the lead up to this fight, the Spider expressed confidence that his experience would be a great challenge for Buatsi. Being ranked #14 in the WBC and #7 in the WBA, he’s sure to drop significantly in the WBA rankings.
A BATTLE OF THE JABS
Both fighters came out looking to establish the jab. Richards was using his jab as a range-finder, looking to keep the more powerful Buatsi at bay. However, Buatsi used his jab to find the straight right hand down the middle.
Neither fighter was looking to give an inch! As Richards would land the jab and good body shots, it was Buatsi responding with the overhand right and body shots that had Richards backing up at times.
Buatsi ripped off brutal combinations using the left hook and overhand right. He was even landing thudding body shots, but Richards stormed back with a body attack and uppercut, taking advantage of his opponent looking to recharge his batteries.
A BACK AND FORTH BATTLE
Richards was splitting the guard of Buatsi with that jab before landing a punishing right hand. He started to take control of the fight with his movement and different punch variations of the jab and right hand.
This was a competitive battle as both men were tired from the fast-paced action. Buatsi marched forward, landing the uppercut and landing more good body shots. Richards showed heart and came back with the left hook followed by an overhand right.
Buatsi continued to battle on the inside, landing the uppercut and left hook, and Richards responded by digging into the body as both men fought until the final bell sounded. The crowd got their money’s worth on this night. It came down to the judges, with one having it 115-113 and two seeing it 116-112 for Buatsi.
During the post-fight interview, Buatsi made it clear that a title fight with WBA Super champion Dmitry Bivol is what he wants next. All that is in the way is if undisputed super middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez wants to avenge the second defeat of his career.
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By: Garrisson Bland