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I feel like it’s inevitable – Joshua Buatsi expecting fight with Anthony Yarde

Joshua Buatsi extended his unbeaten record to 16 wins from as many fights last weekend (Adam Davy/PA)
Joshua Buatsi extended his unbeaten record to 16 wins from as many fights last weekend (Adam Davy/PA)

Joshua Buatsi believes a showdown against Anthony Yarde is “inevitable” and insisted he would prefer to face his London rival next over fighting for a world title.

Buatsi would welcome a bout against WBA light-heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol, with whom he shares a promoter in Eddie Hearn, after claiming a close but clear points win over Craig Richards last weekend.

Trainer Virgil Hunter was cool on such talk, suggesting his protege might need another test or two, and Buatsi would relish another derby occasion against Yarde after beating another Londoner in Richards.

The pair seem to have been on a collision course for a couple of years and while Yarde, who has won 22 of his 24 fights, is promoted by Frank Warren, Buatsi is sure they will face each other in the future.

Joshua Buatsi, left, outpointed Craig Richards at the weekend (Adam Davy/PA)
Joshua Buatsi, left, outpointed Craig Richards at the weekend (Adam Davy/PA)

Buatsi (16-0, 13KOs) told the PA news agency: “I feel like it’s inevitable, it’s going to happen but it’s just a matter of when.

“The styles that we both have, it makes people think ‘imagine if these two fought, whose style would come out on top?’ There’s that curiosity and interest about it.

“The Bivol association is primarily because we’re both promoted by Eddie Hearn. It’s an easier fight to make, that’s the fight we want. But if Yarde was offered next before Bivol, I’d definitely take that.

“That fight between myself and Yarde wouldn’t be next but if that was the situation then absolutely get us back in the O2 Arena (in London) to shake the place again.”

Buatsi celebrated his win over Richards in low-key fashion but will have a gathering with family on Sunday before next week visiting Ghana, where he was born and spent the first nine years of his life.

Anthony Yarde has won 22 of his 24 fights (Adam Davy/PA)
Anthony Yarde has won 22 of his 24 fights (Adam Davy/PA)

Now 29, Buatsi retains close ties with a country where he still has many relatives, whom he plans to visit as well as take part in charity work. While he relishes the trips out there, he admitted his life would be altogether different had his immediate family not immigrated to the UK 20 years ago.

When asked whether he thought he would still be a boxer without the move to London, he said: “No way. Boxing isn’t something I liked as a kid, it isn’t something I had an interest in.

“It was only when I moved to England and I was getting to the end of high school where I started liking it.

“For someone who used to get in fights, I heard that you could do boxing where you’re allowed to fight so you wouldn’t get in trouble.”

The role of boxing in society has come under the microscope following a heated exchange last week on ITV’s Good Morning Britain between Hearn and Peter McCabe, the chief executive of brain injury charity Headway who highlighted the dangers and advocated for the sport to be banned.

While Buatsi does not seek to downplay the risks involved, especially as fighters are more susceptible to lasting neurological disorders due to excessive blows to the head, he pointed out boxing provides opportunities for people from underprivileged backgrounds and a sense of purpose.

The Rio 2016 bronze medallist said: “It gives you an outlet, it gives you opportunities and it changes lives. Boxing has done that for me, it’s changed my life. It’s given me opportunities that I couldn’t tell you where else they would have come from.

“There are risks in day-to-day life. Crossing the road is a risk, does that mean you stay on one side of the road? It doesn’t. Getting on public transport or driving, they’re more dangerous.

“Of course, boxing, you’re putting yourself right in the mix of danger. But there are so many benefits it brings and it can bring to everyone.

“Not everyone aspiring to be a professional boxer or a top-level amateur boxer but just in general. There’s so much that comes with it.”