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Preview: Joshua Buatsi returns to action

Joshua Buatsi
Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing
Joshua Buatsi ends 14-month layoff while Chantelle Cameron can pick up a world belt, writes Matt Bozeat

POSSIBLY the most talked about of the Matchroom-Queensberry match ups proposed by Frank Warren is a clash between light-heavyweight punchers Anthony Yarde and Joshua Buatsi. Yarde says he has had “a couple of conversations” with the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist that “went well.” Given the politics involved, Buatsi doubts the fight will happen but Yarde seems confident they will meet in a pay-per-view fight.

He said: “It’s going to happen in the future, hopefully for a world title.”

Yarde maintained interest in the Buatsi fight by breaking down the willing Dec Spelman in six rounds three weeks ago and on Sunday, Buatsi goes in with Marko Calic in a 10-rounder that tops a show screened on Sky Sports. The 32-year-old Croatian has won all 11 following an amateur career that included reaching the last eight of the 2013 World championships and appearances in World Series of Boxing (WSB) and AIBA Pro Boxing. This looks a sideways step for Buatsi, however. Ranked No. 3 by both the WBA and IBF, the 27-year-old from Croydon has been out for 14 months but looks levels above his rival here.

Last time out, Buatsi took seven rounds to get rid of 37-year-old Ryan Ford (16-4), who had his successes with right hands before Buatsi got on top of him. The shots that sent the Canadian to his first stoppage defeat were body blows. Afterwards, Ford complained he had been hit low. That was Buatsi’s seventh straight stoppage. Body shots also unravelled Tony Averlant (26-10-2) inside a round, a significant result given that Yarde took seven to stop the Frenchman.

Renold Quinlan (12-3) is another who fell inside a round. The Australian had previously been the full 12 with Chris Eubank, albeit down at 168lbs.

No question, Buatsi can punch.

Joshua Buatsi

At 6ft 3ins, Calic is an inch taller than Buatsi but his progress as a pro is significantly slower. Those 11 wins have been spread over four years. He has six wins inside two rounds against journeymen and novices in a career that’s taken him to the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Germany, Sweden, Hungary, Albania and Croatia. Those wins don’t really tell us much, but Calic competed at a good level as an amateur.

At the 2013 World championships, he didn’t do enough against Italy’s Clemente Russo, Olympic silver medallist in 2012, and Teymur Mammadou ended his interest in the European championships. Buatsi shared a pair of fights with the 6ft 5ins Mammadou in the amateurs, outpointing the Azerbaijani the second time they met. The hope of promoter Eddie Hearn will presumably be for Calic to take Buatsi a few rounds. The footage of Calic as an amateur on You Tube shows him to be a stand-up boxer with a decent jab who thinks about what’s coming back at him and tries not to leave gaps. He won’t want to get hit by Buatsi because everything he throws is hard. The time he has to plot his own attacks could be minimal. Calic, though, appears well-schooled enough to not get blown out early but Buatsi to win inside schedule looks nailed on.

The vacant women’s WBC super-lightweight championship is also up for grabs on the show. Jessica McCaskill vacated and moved up to 147lbs to sensationally topple Cecilia Braekhus, leaving unbeatens Chantelle Cameron (12-0) and Adriana Araujo (6-0) to contest the vacant belt over 10 rounds.

Araujo is a solid-looking 38-year-old who represented Brazil at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, winning bronze at the former, before turning over three years ago. The best of her six pro wins came against Colombia’s Estheliz Hernandez (6-0) in her last fight in February, a unanimous points victory over 10 rounds.

Northampton’s Cameron isn’t one to obsess over footage of her opponents, but she’s watched enough of Araujo to describe her as “very tough” and hint she’s one paced. “If she wants to fight at a slow pace, she’s going to struggle with me,” said Cameron. “My strength is my work-rate. I will make her work and hopefully she will gas out.” Against Hernandez, Araujo threw mostly single punches and still appeared to be blowing in the closing rounds.

The punches Araujo threw mostly landed and had weight behind them, but Cameron has proven more over the 10 rounds in dominant points wins over Anisha Basheel (8-5) and Anahi Sanchez (19-4) and provided she doesn’t get careless, Cameron can win on points.

Luton’s Linus Udofia (15-0) defends the English middleweight title against 36 year-old John Harding Jnr (8-1-1). For Udofia, it’s a first defence of the belt he won by outpointing Black Country left-hander Tyler Denny (12-1-2) last November, while Brixton’s Harding makes his second bid for the St George’s belt. Last August, he was stopped in eight by the towering Jack Cullen (16-1). We go for Udofia on points.

Bonkers heavyweight wrecking machine Alen Babic looks for a fifth straight stoppage against 36-year-old Irishman Niall Kennedy (13-1-1) in an eight-rounder. The Dillian Whyte-managed Croatian picked up a few fans with his two-round demolition of 39-year-old Shawndell Winters (13-3) six weeks ago and his eccentric interview afterwards. That night, Babic put everything into every punch and the question is, what happens if the early KO doesn’t come? He’s yet to go beyond two rounds and Kennedy has only lost to Devin Vargas (20-5) in 15 fights. That defeat was put down to a back injury and if he can get through the early storm perhaps Kennedy can upset Babic?

We doubt it.

The Verdict Buatsi eases back while Cameron can steal the show.

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