Joshua Buatsi emerged victorious in a fantastic national contest with Craig Richards by unanimous decision.
Richards may have lost on the night, but his stock will only go up with this performance. In a back-and-forth affair, Buatsi took a 116-112, 115-113, 115-113 win.
Buatsi was looking to set the pace early and despite defensive instincts trained by Virgil Hunter, the Olympic medalist moved forward and looked to set up his looping right cross.
Hunter wanted Buatsi behind the jab to set up his openings, but Buatsi stood in front of Richards and that seemed to unsettle the former world title challenger slightly.
Buatsi had a flurry late in the first round that sent Richards back into the ropes and you could tell they held him down. Despite rushing pressure, Buatsi couldn’t finish.
Richards looked to establish his left jab early in the second round, but Buatsi exploded with a right counter and a left uppercut to move his opponent.
A right uppercut from Richards broke Buatsi’s guard, but Buatsi immediately responded with a hook. After a fairly shaky start, Richards began to grow in the contest.
A straight one-two gave Richards his best moment of the fight so far late in the third round as his right hand found ways to get through Buatsi’s guard.
Buatsi showed rare signs of losing his temper late in round four as the two men swayed as the bell rang to end the round and stared at each other before returning to their stools.
In round five, Buatsi again got into trouble with Richards following high value from his jab. However, after emptying the gas tank, Buatsi had to catch his breath and defend, which allowed RIchards to land a sweet left uppercut.
Another flurry in the sixth, which saw the jab give way to a Buatsi right uppercut, again put the pressure on Richards but it has to be said, the Crystal Palace man showed plenty of heart and dedication. a strong chin in the face of Buatsi’s onslaught. .
Things really opened up late in the eighth round as Richards uncorked a right uppercut again that hurt Buatsi and eventually Richards kept the pressure on.
However, when Richards went for the kill, Buatsi dropped hooks in the corner that nearly knocked Richards down too. It really was anyone’s fight at this point with a knockout seemingly imminent one way or another.
In the tenth, after a few rounds where Richards started to outplay Buatsi, the latter badly hurt Richards with a flurry of punches that saw an overhand right do the brunt of the damage just seconds after Buatsi knocked his guard off. -teeth.
Richards was the busiest and most desperate fighter down the straight, probably knowing he would need a stoppage or at least a knockdown to give himself a chance of victory, but Buatsi was able to escape his worst attacks.
The pair embraced as the final bell sounded with great reverence in an embrace that directly preceded the wild swings to see a fantastic domestic contest.
Buatsi and Eddie Hearn were firm in their desire for a next world title and Dmitry Bivol will be the target. It all depends on whether Canelo Alvarez takes the next fight against Bivol or Gennady Golovkin.