ONE of the most exciting prospects to emerge from the latest Olympic Games, Joshua Buatsi has decided his next move. The London light-heavyweight will turn professional. He has signed with Matchroom promotions and will make his professional debut on July 1 on the Sky televised bill at the O2 in Greenwich.
Buatsi has kept his cards close to his chest since winning his bronze medal at Rio 2016. After scoring the most spectacular knockouts of the Olympic boxing tournament, the Londoner attracted interest from major promoters across the world.
He didn’t rush to a decision. His first course of action was to finish his university degree which he’d put on hold to pursue his Olympic dream. Buatsi actually completed his final module from the midst of a training camp (and he can celebrate successfully getting a 2.1).
“That whole weight is off me now, so all I’ve been doing [was] just getting back into training and weighing up the options,” he told Boxing News in an exclusive interview. “It was totally a new field [pro boxing] and I actually felt like I went back to uni because I had to study something that I didn’t know much about. Pre-Olympics I was stuck in the whole amateur bubble. Everything was based on amateur boxing so now I’ve kind of realised it [professional boxing] is boxing but it’s business as well. You have to look out for yourself. It’s business and amateur boxing, because there’s not a lot of money involved, people are a bit more straightforward.”
He was in an enviable situation in many ways: popular and he’d displayed the characteristics required for a successful professional career. But that brought its own pressure, to make the most of the position he was in and to find his way through this new field. “I’ve gone through a process of seeing who’s who and what they can do,” he said.
Buatsi is also right to be hard-headed about the business realities of professional boxing. Now he’s made the choice, he can focus on what he does best and get back to the fighting. “I’m just looking forward to getting out there and boxing and carrying on, just captivating everyone’s imagination,” he said. “In Rio people didn’t expect anything and I surpassed that. People have really, really high expectations of me so my aim again is to surpass that, whatever the expectation is it’s to surpass that. I’ve just got to do the best that I can do as an individual with whatever talent or whatever ability that I have.”
Despite his personable character outside of the ropes, he vowed to restart that knockout run. “That’s what people want to see, the most innocent soul can be sitting there but once they know there’s a fight that innocent soul still wants to see the knockout, they still want to see blood and they want to see a winner. So I’m aware of that reality as well. I’m aware of that I know there’s no excuses in pro boxing. It’s a whole new field but mentally I feel I’m prepared for it,” he said. “It should [suit me] but I still feel I have to prove it. People are saying a lot of positive things but I’m yet to go in the ring [as a pro] to fight and to find out – am I going to be the good product that people think?”
“So we have to find out,” he noted, before adding, “I know what I think.”