Former amateur foes take their rivalry into the pro ranks this Saturday, as Croydon's Joshua Buatsi puts his undefeated professional record on the line against Crystal Palace's Craig Richards in a light heavyweight London derby at the O2 Arena.
In April 2014, these two men faced off in the amateur ranks, As Buatsi defeated Richards by unanimous decision in the Prelimary rounds of the 2014 English National Championships.
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The Buatsi bout was the only amateur bout that Richards had, as he turned pro just over 13 months as he defeated James Child via TKO in the first round after opening up a cut on the right eyelid of Child.
Richards then dropped to the super middleweight division and began stringing together victories. In his eighth fight, Richards challenged Southern Area Champion Alan Higgins on Matchroom's inaugural NXTGEN show. Richards and Higgins put on a show for 10 rounds, and Richards got the decision, picking up his first piece of silverware as a pro.
In his 10th fight, Richards opted to go back to light heavyweight, and produced a second round knockout over Norbert Szekeres. An oppurtunity knocked for Richards as Callum Johnson had picked up an injury ruling him out of a British light heavyweight clash with Frank Buglioni, and Richards stepped in on a weeks notice. Richards was unsucessful in his challenge for the British title, but made a very good account of himself.
Three fights later, Richards tasted gold once again as he knocked out domestic rival Jake Ball in three rounds to pick up the WBA Continental title. Richards showcased his power as he dropped Ball in every round.
Richards was mandated to fight for the British title against Shakan Pitters, before that bout took place, Richards opted to take a tune up fight with Chad Sugden. Sugden shocked many doubters as he caused Richards all sorts of problems, leading to the bout being declared as a draw.
The Pitters fight did come next despite the draw with Sugden. Richards silenced his doubters, as he knocked out Pitters in round nine in a thrilling bout which also seen Pitters crash to the canvas in round four, as Richards had now gained the British title.
Richards was then given the opportunity to fight for a world title, as he faced the fearsome Dmitry Bivol. Richards was handed the second loss of his career, but had once again risen to the occasion and made a very good account for himself in a spirited performance, as he provided a tough test for Bivol. Richards has had one outing since, as he knocked out Marek Matyja in six rounds.
Buatsi went on to have a stellar amateur career, as he accumalated 39 victories out of 50 fights, which even consisted of winning an Olympic Bronze medal at the Rio 2016 games.
Buatsi was eyed by many promoters following the Olympics, and he opted to sign with Matchroom Boxing in 2017. Buatsi's pro debut was subject to a lot of hype, and he lived up to it as he knocked out Carlos Mena in two rounds.
????ON THIS DAY: Buatsi's debut??
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) July 1, 2021
Buatsi impressed on big undercards, before picking up his first title in his seventh fight as he knocked Andrejs Pokumeiko out in a brutal round one display, which resulted in Buatsi picking up the WBA international title. After picking up first round knockouts over Tony Averlant and Renold Quinlan in his next two fights, Buatsi was given the opportunity to fight for the vacant British title against Liam Conroy. Buatsi showed his levels as he stopped Conroy in three rounds to become British champion. However, Buatsi would vacate this belt shortly after.
Buatsi made his US debut next as he knocked out Marco Antonio Periban in four round in Madison Square Garden on the undercard of Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz. Buatsi continued to bring the knockouts in his next three fights, including a show reel knockout of Daniel Dos Santos.
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— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) May 15, 2021
Buatsi next faced his biggest test yet as a pro as he faced off with the in form Ricards Bolotniks at Matchroom's Fight Camp. Buatsi dropped Bolotniks in the sixth, before having a point deducted in the eighth due to continuous low blows. However, Buatsi closed the show in style as he knocked Bolotniks out in the 11th round of a thrilling fight.
All roads have lead to this huge domestic showdown, can Richards avenge his amateur to defeat to Buatsi, or will Buatsi continue his meteoric rise to potential world title glory soon? The fight can be watched live on DAZN this Saturday.