The finish was chilling but the opposition was underwhelming as Croydon light-heavyweight hope Joshua Buatsi despatched overmatched Frenchman Daniel Blenda Dos Santos with a vicious right hand in the fourth round at the AO Arena in Manchester on Saturday.
Despite both men being undefeated there was a stark difference in ability between the duo in a bout that, if we’re honest, didn’t merit main event status. Buatsi is a blue-chip world title prospect though softly, softly matchmaking isn’t aiding his ascent.
Crucially, Buatsi did the job required in his first fight with esteemed trainer Virgil Hunter. A short right hand deposited Dos Santos to the canvas in the second round as Buatsi squeezed the space from the ring. The visitor spoiled, held and sought evasive manoeuvres to see out the round.
Dos Santos tackled a clearly annoyed Buatsi to the canvas in the third, but that was a rare offensive strike for him. In the fourth, Buatsi detonated an overhand right that simply poleaxed the Frenchman. He drooped to the canvas where referee Victor Loughlin immediately waved it off. Dos Santos was in floods of tears afterwards, but the compassionate Buatsi, one of the game’s good guys, was there to offer him words of kind consolation.
“I hope he’s okay,” Buatsi told Matchroom afterwards. “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.”
Buatsi has what it takes to be a major player at 175lbs, but bigger tests are needed as soon as possible.
Slick southpaw Lerrone Richards had far too much in his locker for former WBA title holder Giovanni De Carolis, winning as he pleased to earn the vacant European super-middleweight crown via landslide decision. Scores were 120-108 (twice) and 119-109.
Richards’ greater skillset and movement saw him canter to an early lead with an excellent jab in full flow. De Carolis chugged forward but was made to miss by his crafty foe. In a fine rhythm, the South Londoner worked his Italian co-challenger adroitly to the body and ghosted out of harm’s way.
Richards felt comfortable enough to hold his feet and engage with De Carolis by the sixth. Roman veteran De Carolis was left chasing shadows. He was persistent but plodding and Richards handled him with ease, riddling him with crisp rather than hurtful combinations. De Carolis, meanwhile, barely landed a meaningful blow.
After round after round of superiority, the outcome was never in doubt.
“I said I was going to conquer Europe and I’ve done it,” Richardstold 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.”
Main image: Dave Thompson/Matchroom Boxing.