BUATSI VICIOUSLY KNOCKS OUT DOS SANTOS

10 x 3 mins WBA International Light-Heavyweight Title
JOSHUA BUATSI WKO4 (2:44) v DANIEL BLENDA DOS SANTOS
(Croydon, England)                       (Pont-Sainte-Maxence, France)

Joshua Buatsi viciously knocked out Daniel Blenda Dos Santos in four rounds to retain his WBA International Light-Heavyweight Title at the AO Arena, Manchester, live on Sky Sports in the UK and on DAZN in the US and more than 200 countries and territories.The former Olympian won the battle of undefeated 175lbs contenders with a brutal overhand right which slumped his rival to the canvas two minutes and 44 seconds into the fourth session. Buatsi had veteran trainer Virgil Hunter in his corner for the first time and the resounding result puts him on a collision course with the division’s best.“I hope he’s okay,” Buatsi told Matchroom. “We’ve seen this happen to many fighters. You box someone they say you’re levels above and it’s a banana skin situation. I’m glad I handled it. The most important thing is I hope he’s okay. We’ve seen these type of fighters come and cause upsets recently and I was adamant it wasn’t going to happen to me. I’m glad it went well.

“I remain optimistic all of the time in the moves that I make and this is one of them. We will have a week or so off and then we’re back in the gym to keep building. Going in we had little footage of him. Usually you can watch who you’re going to fight to get a feel. He looked very good in the one bit of footage we had of him. I had to learn round by round what he was like.

“Virgil gave me the perfect instructions and I followed them. I haven’t got here by being given it. The little that I’ve earnt, I had to work hard for it. I thank god for everything that we’ve got but I work hard for it. When I step in that ring it’s a dog mentality. This is a fight. I’m here to take everything. We’re here to win but we’re not here to hurt anyone. The time that we’re in the ring, yes, we want to win, and we want to entertain. We’re not here to hurt anyone in the long-term.”

12 x 3 mins vacant European Super-Middleweight Title
LERRONE RICHARDS WUD12 (120-108, 120-108, 119-109) v GIOVANNI DE CAROLIS
(New Malden, England)                                                               (Viterbo, Italy)The skilful Lerrone Richards comprehensively out-boxed Italy’s Giovanni De Carolis to claim the vacant European Super-Middleweight Title.Richards, who had previously won British and Commonwealth honours, ran rings around De Carolis to secure a unanimous decision.De Carolis, a former WBA World Champion, could not lay a glove on Richards who is now unbeaten in 15.”I said I was going to conquer Europe, and I’ve done it,” Richards told Matchroom. “I’m very pleased and I’m very happy. I wanted this so bad to complete the collection. British, Commonwealth and now the European Super-Middleweight Champion. I’m very happy.

“It’s all of the drilling and all of the work in the gym. I’d like to thank my team – Dave Coldwell, Danny Wilson and my nutritionist Lee for getting me in the best shape possible for this fight. I’m going to be very difficult to beat. I said this from the start. It’s all about the skills, and I have them in abundance. I showcased a little bit of that tonight.

“There were points in the fight where I decided to sit in the pocket and work with him. I could have gone up the gears a little bit more tonight. I felt like what I was doing was enough. My team are very happy with my performance.

“I started from the bottom and worked my way up – I backed myself. There’s something to learn at every level. We’ll see what the team says the best options are for me. The next step now is fringe world level.”

12 x 3 mins European Super-Bantamweight Title 
GAMAL YAFAI v JASON CUNNINGHAM WUD12 (115-110, 114-111, 114-111)
(Birmingham, England)    (Doncaster, England)Jason Cunningham upset Gamal Yafai by knocking him down three times to surprisingly claim his European Super-Bantamweight Title via unanimous decision.

Yafai was down in the second, fourth and sixth rounds and spent the rest of the fight desperately trying to salvage his belt, but to no avail.“We’re buzzing,” said Cunningham. “We’re from a little town called Doncaster. We’ve got a British, European and World Champion – that’s some doing that. In at three weeks’ notice – I won my second Commonwealth Title at three weeks’ notice. They tried catching me out tonight, I don’t care what anyone says – that’s what they’ve done. 

“I’ve stayed prepared, stayed disciplined and dedicated. This is what happens when you stick to it. I was in this venue last time I had a big fight against Michael Conlan. I pushed Michael Conlan hard. I had to grit in late on tonight – he hurt me a few times to the body. I’ll never quit. It’s my boxing ability that sets me above the rest. I’m an awkward tall southpaw.

“I said I knew I had the tools to do it. I said I’d have done a better job if I had more notice but to be fair, I dropped him three times and it was quite comfortable really. I knew to keep calm and carry on what I was doing. I stuck to it and this is my reward. I made a lot of people in Doncaster a lot of money tonight.

“I showed my class, I was levels above him in terms of boxing ability. Usually you get a good ten weeks’ notice for a European Title fight – it was the biggest fight of my life. I’ve been out of the ring since February last year. Tonight was just my night, I knew I was all wrong for him.”

12 x 3 mins European Cruiserweight Title
TOMMY MCCARTHY WKO6 (2:09) v ALEXANDRU JUR
(Belfast, Northern Ireland)                  (Oradea, Romania)

Tommy McCarthy successfully defended his European Cruiserweight Title for the first time by stopping Alexandru Jur in the sixth round, twice flooring him with body shots.

‘Mac Attack’ is now set to face Bournemouth’s Commonwealth Champion Chris Billam-Smith at Matchroom’s next Fight Camp instalment this summer. 

“I’m delighted,” McCarthy told Matchroom. “I got a few rounds in and a stoppage. I got everything that I wanted. We prepared for Jur to give me a good test. I don’t think he expected me to come out the way that I did. It threw him off a bit. I can’t complain.

“I thought it was all over after the first knockdown. Feinted to the head, left hook to the body and he went over. He went into survival mode after that. It was the same again with the next one. I’ve been working hard with my team all through camp. We’ve been doing all sorts of drills. We’ve been working on being explosive. The S and C training was all focused on me being explosive. I’m a hard puncher.

“Everything was perfect this camp – no injuries. I was driving them shots through him, it was great. The pandemic has been great for me, I’ve kept my head down, stayed in the gym and worked on my whole game. I hope everybody is buzzing back home in Belfast.

“I’ve got no problem fighting Chris Billam-Smith, it’s easy work. If this is the hurdle that I have to jump over for a World Title fight, then so be it. Chris Billam-Smith, stop Tweeting about me, stop talking about me – we’ll see you at Fight Camp.”

10 x 3 mins vacant English Super-Lightweight Title
DALTON SMITH WTKO6 (2:44) v LEE APPLEYARD
(Sheffield, England)                      (Rotherham, England)Dalton Smith claimed the vacant English Super-Lightweight Title by dominating Lee Appleyard and forcing a sixth-round stoppage.The referee stepped in with Appleyard still on his feet when Smith’s onslaught became too much, progressing the 24-year-old’s record to 8-0 (7 KO’s).“I’ve got my first professional Title,” said Smith. “I’ve dreamt about this since I was a little boy. I’m English Champion! It’s the starting block for me. When the fight first got announced, I thought, ‘it’s just an English Title’, but now I’ve got it it’s like, ‘wow, I’m a professional Champion now’. It feels good.

“All credit to Lee – he’s one tough kid. I was prepared for a fast-paced ten rounds tonight, but he was just taking a few too many shots in there. I’m good friends with Lee out of the ring. When you go in there it’s just business. I could see his face was getting bust up pretty bad. I kind of felt sorry for him in a way. I’ve got respect for him. I knew eventually the shots would come and I knew he wasn’t going to last long.

“I’m happy with my performance. You want to win in style. The knockouts are good. We want to win but we don’t want anyone to come out of there hurt. People forget that was my eighth pro fight there. Lee is an experienced guy and he’s been in with some top kids. He’s been those championship rounds.

“I’m taking my time, I’m 24. I’ve got one shot at boxing; I want to make sure that I do it right. I’m not in there with no mugs – they’re real contenders. That was a good step up and I proved what I’m about. I’m not a championship round fighter yet. Kay Prosper just boxed for the European Title – they’re the type of fights that I want. I want to get those championship rounds in, I’m in a tough division. Maybe I’ll get over to the States in my next fight, get a bit of experience over there. I’d love to do that.”

6 x 3 mins International Heavyweight contest
SOLOMON DACRES WPTS6 (60-54) v MLADEN MANEV
(Birmingham, England)                          (Sofia, Bulgaria)

Birmingham Heavyweight Solomon Dacres won his first professional fight on points by battering Bulgaria’s Mladen Manev for six rounds.

The former Team GB standout, who has shared sparring with the likes of Unified Heavyweight World Champion Anthony Joshua and European Champion Joe Joyce, completely dominated Manev, earning a 60-54 decision from the referee. 

“It was good to get six rounds under my belt,” Dacres told Matchroom. “I know a lot of people like to get the big Heavyweights that get them out of there in one round, but you don’t learn much from that. I got to show my skills. I didn’t just go for all power. I’ve got plenty more in the tank, so it was good to get the rounds in.

“I showed my hand speed at times. I showed I can box. I didn’t rush it. I’ve varied the power up. It’s all building up. We’re training to be a twelve-round fighter, not just a one or two round knockout artist. You don’t gain much from getting someone that is going to fall over after a round. Six tough rounds, I got to go through the gears, show a bit of what I’m about and learn a little bit as well.

“I was pretty relaxed to be honest. I’ve had plenty of amateur fights. I know that I prepared very hard. It felt good to get in there. Hard work is at the route of it all. If you put that hard work and dedication in, the sky is the limit. I’ll keep putting my head down in the gym and performing in the ring.”

4 x 2 mins International Super-Welterweight contest
ELLIS HOPKINS WPTS4 (40-36) v BORISLAVA GORANOVA
(Leicestershire, England)               (Sofia, Bulgaria)
 
Leicestershire’s Ellis Hopkins made a winning to start to life in the professional ranks, comfortably outpointing Bulgaria’s seasoned veteran Borislava 40-36 in the opening bout of the night. 

Hopkins, 20, is the first female professional boxer from the traveller community and hopes to inspire a new generation of girls to follow in her footsteps. 

“It was a good performance, I got going in the last two rounds,” Hopkins told Matchroom. “I’m just glad to get the first one out of the way, and on such a big platform. I couldn’t be more thankful to Matchroom and MTK for giving me the opportunity.

“She was tough, you can tell she’s experienced by the way she knew how to hold on every time I caught her. Becoming the first ever female from the travelling community to turn professional is a very big achievement and I hope I can inspire more young girls to do the same.

“It’s the perfect time to turn over, women’s boxing is going from strength to strength at the moment. I just want to get as many fights under my belt as I can this year and next year we’ll push for Titles.”
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BUATSI VS. DOS SANTOS WEIGHTS AND RUNNING ORDER

17:15 LIVE ON SKY SPORTS FACEBOOK

4 x 2 mins International Super-Welterweight contest
ELLIS HOPKINS 11st 0lbs 8ozv BORISLAVA GORANOVA 11st 2lbs 10oz
(Leicestershire, England)            (Sofia, Bulgaria)

Followed by

18:00 LIVE ON SKY SPORTS/DAZN

6 x 3 mins International Heavyweight contest
SOLOMON DACRES 15st 12lbs 11ozv MLADEN MANEV 16st 9lbs 0oz
(Birmingham, England)                          (Sofia, Bulgaria)

Followed by

10 x 3 mins vacant English Super-Lightweight Title
DALTON SMITH 9st 13lbs 9oz v LEE APPLEYARD 9st 13lbs 11oz
(Sheffield, England)                     (Rotherham, England)

Followed by

12 x 3 mins European Cruiserweight Title
TOMMY MCCARTHY 14st 3lbs 4oz v ALEXANDRU JUR 14st 2lbs 7oz
(Belfast, Northern Ireland)                 (Oradea, Romania)

Followed by

12 x 3 mins European Super-Bantamweight Title 
GAMAL YAFAI 8st 9lbs 10oz v JASON CUNNINGHAM 8st 9lbs 8oz
(Birmingham, England)             (Doncaster, England)

Followed by

12 x 3 mins vacant European Super-Middleweight Title
LERRONE RICHARDS 11st 12lbs 10oz v GIOVANNI DE CAROLIS 11st 13lbs 4oz
(New Malden, England)                             (Viterbo, Italy)

Followed by

10 x 3 mins WBA International Light-Heavyweight Title
JOSHUA BUATSI 12st 6lbs 0ozv DANIEL BLENDA DOS SANTOS 12st 4lbs 12oz
(Croydon, England)                       (Pont-Sainte-Maxence, France)

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BUATSI VS. DOS SANTOS + UNDERCARD PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES

Eddie Hearn, Chairman of Matchroom Sport:

“We’re back in Manchester, hopefully the final event behind closed doors. Last Saturday, I’m not getting bored of telling you 73,000 fans were in the unbelievable AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas for the huge Canelo vs. Billy Joe Saunders fight. This will be the last time we’re behind closed doors. It’s been fun, the bubbles have been great, they’ve thrown up some unbelievable upsets and great fights as well. We will keep the bubble moving forward, but you will be allowed out – so good news for the fighters!”

Joshua Buatsi – Croydon, England – 13-0, 11 KOs – defending his WBA International Light-Heavyweight Title against Daniel Blenda Dos Santos:

“I’m ready to fight. The thing is there may be a target on me Eddie, but I’m really from the bottom so the build-up is great but that’s not my mentality. I started from nothing as well, moved from Ghana to England, I’ve also come from nothing. I always tell people when I fight, I’ve got nothing to lose, I’m gaining everything and when I go in there the mentally is different. I’ll be there to fight to, I’m there to fight and protect the little that I have.

“I keep laughing when I say this, prior to a fight you say you’re willing to do anything, but when it was time in the ring when that happened, I had to show up for it and I felt I gave a good account and got the win. Saturday night I’ll be there to do whatever it takes to win because I’m in here to fight. We’ll see how it goes.

“I think if you ask anyone, and they don’t say it, they must be thinking differently. You’re Eddie Hearn right, you’re sitting here, and I think you feel like you’ve signed the best Light-Heavyweight in the country – that speak for itself. For the others, they’re doing well, I’m doing what I’m doing and hopefully one day we can all get in and fight to see. For now, my man next door is who I’ve got to deal with, that’s what I’m concentrating on.

“It’s been good having Virgil on board, amazing, I said I could have 100 coaches in my corner but when that bell rings it’s just you. Nevertheless, having this man here added to the team, we’ll see how to goes – it’ll be good.”

Virgil Hunter, trainer of Joshua Buatsi:

“I’m back here in the UK, a place I like to think of as home. I’ve been exposed to some of the UK’s greatest fighters that I’ve had a chance to meet as well as work with. Joshua Buatsi is no exception to that, I think he’s a major talent, I think he has a tremendous upside, I’m hoping I can do everything to cultivate that and turn him into a World Champion.

“I think Joshua will apply some of the thing we worked on and show Saturday night that he’s been a good student.

“Anytime that you have the opportunity to fight a medallist from the Olympics, that medal has a bullseye on his back. He’s going to get a hungry opponent, that opponent is going to be dead serious because he knows it can change the trajectory of his career. We don’t have much footage on Dos Santos, but we take him serious on what we have seen, that he is a good fighter and to be taken serious, that’s how we’re approaching the fight.”

Daniel Blenda Dos Santos – Pont-Sainte-Maxence, France – 15-0, 8 KOs – challenging Joshua Buatsi for his WBA International Light-Heavyweight Title:

“This is the opportunity of my life; we know Joshua is a great champion and for me it’s a great opportunity – I appreciate the chance of being here.

“Boxing saved my life, a guy like me is supposed to be in jail or dead. Thank God I had the opportunity to leave prison, make a real change in my life and become a professional fighter. I changed 100% of my life, my city, everything, now all this work and dedication I’m in this place right now. I have to enjoy the moment.

“I have to be the best version of myself to beat Joshua Buatsi. That’s what I’m going to try Saturday night.” 

Lerrone Richards – New Malden, England – 14-0, 3 KOs – fighting Giovanni De Carolis for the vacant European Super-Middleweight Title:

“Like I’ve always said, I want to conquer Europe and being the European Champion has always been a big thing for me – ticking everyone single box. I won the British, Commonwealth, European is the next step and I’m very excited for this fight.

“He [Giovanni De Carolis] brings a lot of pedigree, he’s very experienced and a very good fighter. But this is a fight I believe I’m going win and win very well.

“This division is very sexy and I’m glad to be a part of it. I can’t wait to win this European Title and step on to bigger and better things.”

Giovanni De Carolis – Viterbo, Italy – 28-9-1, 13 KOs – fighting Lerrone Richards for the vacant European Super-Middleweight Title: 

“I’m proud to represent my country here, I’m happy. Two years of inactivity for me is bad but this is the situation and for me there isn’t any problem. I’m ready for Saturday and I’m happy to fight.

“I am happy because when I fight out of my country my heart in the ring is stronger. I would like the people to see my boxing.”

Gamal Yafai – Brimingham, England – 18-1, 10 KOs – defending his European Super-Bantamweight Title against Jason Cunningham:

“I had a horrible two years, but it was good to go to Italy and win the European Title. It’s good to back home defending it in the UK.

“I thought to myself this isn’t the end of me, I knew I was going to come back, win the European Title and go onto big things. That’s what I plan on doing and we start on Saturday night.

“He wanted the opportunity and I’ll give him the opportunity. The best man will win and I’m by far the best man, I’ll show that on Saturday night.” 

Jason Cunningham – Doncaster, England – 28-6, 6 KOs – challenging Gamal Yafai for the European Super-Bantamweight Title:

“Massive opportunity, another Yafai as well. Like I said, we were begging for the opportunity, I always stay ready. I kind of had an idea it was happening, I had to be prepared, be ready, I am. You’re going to see the best Jason Cunningham Saturday night, I’m ready for him and take that title.

“I got offered a few fights during the lockdown but I’m so glad I was patient because this is the opportunity I wanted. This is the biggest fight to date; this is my World Title fight. I’ve got all this experience, I’ve took my setbacks, I’ve come back, I’ve had plenty of success as well. They’ve all put me in good stead, there’s no starting again from here so everything is going into Saturday night. I’m very confident, I’ll be expecting the best Gamal Yafai but you should expect the best Jason Cunningham as well.”

Tommy McCarthy – Belfast, Northern Ireland – 17-2, 8 KOs – defending his European Cruiserweight Title against Alexandru Jur:

“I’ve been saying all week I’m expecting a tough test, as you say he’s got all the experience and boxed at the championship level for some time. He looks in good shape, it seems like he’s had a good camp and he seems like he wants to do his talking in the ring so I’m even more nervous.

“I was prepared for a tough fight but when I saw him [Bilal Laggoune] at the weigh-in he looked like he hadn’t trained properly so I kind of switched off a little bit. When it came to fight night, he was ready to go so he pushed me. There are no easy fights when you’re fighting for the European Title, at the time he was number seven in the world. It was a big win for me, a big confidence boost and I’m delighted I came out the winner.

“There’s so much potential for a massive future ahead of me, I need to put all of that in the back of my mind. James Tennyson, were from the same place, everything was set up for him to go onto bigger and better things but it didn’t go his way. That’s made me switch on even more, put anything past this out of my mind because this is going to be a tough fight on Saturday, and I can’t afford any slip ups.”

Alexandru Jur – Oradea, Romania – 19-4, 7 KO– challenging Tommy McCarthy for the European Cruiserweight Title:

“I’m already ready for the fight, I’m in good form. It’s a big opportunity for me.”

Dalton Smith – Sheffield, England – 7-0, 6 KOs – fighting Lee Appleyard for the vacant English Super-Lightweight Title:

“It’s starting to get exciting. When the fight fell through before I knew we were going to get it back on because it was a fight I wanted. It’s a fight I know I’m going to look good in, Lee and I have sparred before so I’m glad we could get it back on.

“When I win, I can turn round and say there’s no excuses, they’ve had a full camp. I’ve got a 100% prepared Lee Appleyard and that’s what I want – that’s what will bring the best out of me. 

“People forgot the World Series of Boxing, even though it’s not championship rounds. I’ve been in there with tough guys – the Kazakhs and Russians. Experience for me is the championship rounds, I’m confident in that and I believe Lee will take me to those rounds and that’s what I need.

“When it comes to pressure, there’s no pressure for me in this fight because each fight I take will be a step up – there’s always going to be pressure there. There’s more pressure on Lee’s shoulders because where does he really go after this fight. This is his World Title shot, this is where he can push on.”

Lee Appleyard – Rotherham, England – 16-5-1, 5 KOs – fighting Dalton Smith for the vacant English Super-Lightweight Title:

“This is a massive opportunity, it’s a pleasure to share the ring with Dalton. He’s one of the biggest prospects but we took the fight on three weeks’ notice last time and believed we were going to win. We’ve had nine weeks now and we have no doubt.

“It’s a hard fight, everyone’s writing me off, the bookies are writing me off. There’s no pressure on me whatsoever, all the pressure is on Dalton, and we’ll see how he deals with it on the night. When the fight goes into the later rounds, that’s where I’ve been and what I known, and I’ll come into my own.

“When I boxed for the Commonwealth, that was only three and a half weeks’ notice and I think that made the difference on the results on the night because I didn’t have time to properly prepare. It was a bit of a blessing getting Covid, having nine weeks preparation and getting sponsors behind me.

“I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in and I’m coming to win on Saturday night, there’s no doubt about it, Dalton’s got a tough night ahead of him.

“You can’t buy experience, there’s nothing between us, he’s a respectful lad and I’m respectful to him. It’s a pleasure to share the ring with him but I know what doors this can open; I want those doors open and keep moving on – fighting for the British Title. Respect to Dalton for taking the fight, this probably wouldn’t be happening if we weren’t in the COVID situation. This is a cracking fight for the fans, they’re in for a treat.”

Solomon Dacres – Birmingham, England – Professional Debut – fighting Mladen Manev in a six round Heavyweight contest:

“It’s long overdue, I thought I was going to get out March 20th on the Okolie card. Long delays, I’ve been training overtime for the fight – I’ve had about three training camps worth of training just for this one fight. It’s all in the bank and I’m ready to let it all go Saturday.

“I don’t have to go too slowly; I can build myself up because I’ve got more experience so I can take little steps quicker than other fighters. Sam Jones and my coach will pick opponents where I’m being tested and improve all the time. We won’t go at a snail’s pace and look to pick things up in the next twelve months.

“All that experience, guys that have been then and done. Joshua, Joyce, Dubois, sparring those guys they’re 15/20 fights into their professional careers and well established. I’m sparring, gaining confidence, and knowing my own level. I haven’t had my first fight yet, but it gives you confidence seeing them fighting on big titles and gives me confidence knowing that I’m going to go forward and what I can do.

“It’s been a long time since there’s been a Heavyweight from Birmingham, and we haven’t never had a World Champion in the Heavyweight division. Hopefully I can emulate that and get the city behind me. We need to get that support in Birmingham and get behind me.” 

Mladen Manev – Sofia, Bulgaria – 3-8, 3 KOs – fighting Solomon Dacres in a six round Heavyweight contest:

“I’m ready to fight, I’m ready for a boxing match Saturday. I feel very good to be here in Manchester, it’s a nice city. I’m ready.” 

Ellis Hopkins – Leicestershire, England – Professional Debut – fighting Borislava Goranova in a four round Super-Welterweight contest:

“It’s a massive time to come into female boxing, the last few years female boxing has gone from strength to strength and I’m excited to be a part of it and make my debut this weekend.

“Everyone looks up to Katie Taylor, you can’t get better than that, she’s won everything and done everything. The likes of Terry Harper and Natasha Jonas, they’re all big inspirations as well.

“I can box, I can fight, so whatever happens on the night happens on the night, we’ll see.”

Borislava Goranova – Sofia, Bulgaria – 11-64-4 – fighting Ellis Hopkins in a four round Super-Welterweight contest:

“I’m happy to see Ellis, I’m happy to be here and I feel strong. I’ll show you my boxing on Saturday night.”

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BUATSI EXCITED BY VIRGIL HUNTER LINK-UP

‘JB’ clashes with unbeaten Dos Santos this Saturday
Joshua Buatsi says he is excited to showcase his improvements under new trainer Virgil Hunter when he defends his WBA International Light-Heavyweight Title against unbeaten Frenchman Daniel Blenda Dos Santos at the AO Arena, Manchester this Saturday May 15, live on Sky Sports in the UK and on DAZN in the US and more than 200 countries and territories.

Croydon’s Buatsi (13-0, 11 KOs) came through the toughest test of his career as he stopped brave Croatian Marko Calic in seven brutal rounds to retain his WBA ranking belt in the main event at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes last October.

The 28-year-old has since travelled to San Francisco in the US to team up with renowned coach Hunter, who guided the career of pound-for-pound star Andre Ward – and former Olympian ‘JB’ is confident the move will strengthen his pursuit of a World Title fight. 

“In my last fight I found out that if I have to dig deep because it’s not going my way, I’m capable of doing it,” said Buatsi. “That’s in the bank now. Before that fight I thought it was in the bank, I was convinced it was in the bank, but I’d never been tested. Now that I have been tested and I had to show a bit of guts, I know it’s there.

“I met Virgil Hunter at the first Joshua vs. Ruiz fight in New York in 2019. I went over to him to introduce myself and he told me he knew who I was. I told him I was going to come and train with him one day, and he said the door to his gym was open whenever I was ready. After my last fight in October I said, ‘I’m out of here’. I’ve come out here to learn more and add things to my game. 

“It’s totally different living out here. It’s great, it’s nice and the views are amazing, I’ve never seen anything like it, but I’m here just for boxing. The main goal is purely to come out here to gain experience and learn as much as I can. It’s going really well so far. 

“I wasn’t really watching a lot of professional boxing in the amateurs. I started to watch it when I was about 17 or 18. I came across Andre Ward and started watching his fights, listening out for what he was being told in the corner and stuff like that. I knew then Virgil was a good trainer. I said at the time I’d love to be trained by Virgil, but I didn’t ever think in a million years I’d be in the States training with him. 

“Sometimes in the corner, it’s not really even boxing advice that he’s giving me, it’s just something totally different. It’s linked to boxing, so I’ll do it and I’ll be like, ‘cool, that worked’. It’s a whole different spin and approach from him but I’m really enjoying it. 

“As always, I look to go in there, and I look to handle business. I don’t really go too much into reading about opponents and their previous fights, because how they boxed someone else is not how they’re going to box me. I’ll be there listening to the instructions that Virgil is going to give me. I’m very excited. I’m looking forward to showing people what I’ve been learning out here. 

“Ultimately, I’m fighting to win. However it looks, my primary goal is to always win. We’ll be stepping up. Whoever they put in front of me, I’ll look to get rid of them and to keep building and learning. I’ve got older heads around me to guide what I’m doing. You have to consider what they’ve got to say because they’ve been there and done it. Buatsi vs. Dos Santos tops a huge night of boxing in Manchester,three European Title fights feature on the bill with Gamal Yafai (18-1, 10 KOs) defending his Super-Bantamweight Title for the first time against Jason Cunningham (28-6, 6 KOs), Tommy McCarthy (17-2, 18 KOs) defending his Cruiserweight crown against Romania’s Alexandru Jur (19-4, 7 KOs) and Lerrone Richards (14-0, 3 KOs) taking on Italy’s Giovanni De Carolis (28-9-1, 13 KOs) for the vacant Super-Middleweight strap, Dalton Smith (7-0, 6 KOs) takes on Lee Appleyard (16-5-1, 5 KOs) for the vacant English Super-Lightweight Title after their February clash fell through at short notice, Birmingham Heavyweight Solomon Dacres makes his professional debut and Ellis Hopkins makes history when she becomes the first female from the traveller community to turn professional.
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BUATSI MEETS DOS SANTOS ON MAY 15

‘JB’ takes on unbeaten contender in Manchester
Joshua Buatsi continues his push for a World Title fight when he faces Daniel Blenda Dos Santos, a fellow unbeaten contender, for the WBA International Light-Heavyweight Title at the AO, Arena Manchester on Saturday May 15, live on Sky Sports in the UK andon DAZN in the US and more than 200 countries and territories.The explosive 178lbs contender, one of Britain’s hottest talents, stopped Marko Calic in October to continue his destructive rise up the rankings and has since travelled to America to team up with new trainer Virgil Hunter, who guided the career of pound-for-pound star Andre Ward. 

France’s Dos Santos is undefeated in 15 fights, with eight of his wins coming inside the distance, and the 30-year-old from Pont-Sainte-Maxence has been more active than Buatsi in recent months, fighting twice in 2021 and earning a first round stoppage last time out. 

“I’ve got an unbeaten opponent, that makes him ambitious,” said Buatsi. “Obviously it’s the first fight under Virgil, so it’s should be interesting. I’m looking forward to showing what I’ve been working on with Virgil. He’s going to want to hold onto his undefeated record, as I am. When that’s at stake you really dig deep.”It’s mainly the style that I like. Each of his fighters translate it differently. The public haven’t seen how good I can be, or I will be. I want to unlock the potential that I have got. This addition to the team will 100 per cent bring the best out of me.”Buatsi vs. Dos Santos is part of a huge night of boxing in Manchester, Terri Harper (11-0-1, 6 KOs) attempts to add Hyun-Mi Choi’s (18-0-1, 4 KOs) WBA belt to her WBC and IBO World Titles as she battles for supremacy at 130lbs, there is also a triple-header of European Title fights with Gamal Yafai (18-1, 10 KOs) defending his Super-Bantamweight Title for the first time against Jason Cunningham (28-6, 6 KOs), Tommy McCarthy (17-2, 18 KOs) defending his Cruiserweight crown against Romania’s Alexandru Jur (19-4, 7 KOs) and Lerrone Richards (14-0, 3 KOs) taking on Italy’s Giovanni De Carolis (28-9-1, 13 KOs) for the vacant Super-Middleweight strap, Dalton Smith (7-0, 6 KOs) also takes on Lee Appleyard (16-5-1, 5 KOs) for the vacant English Super-Lightweight Title after their February clash fell through at short notice.
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