Joshua Buatsi returned to the ring for the first time in 12 months with a wide unanimous decision win over Pawel Stepien in Birmingham on Saturday.
The victory marked Buatsi’s first under the BOXXER banner since he joined up with the promotional outfit and Sky Sports in March.
Despite winning comfortably on all three scorecards (100-90, 98-92, 97-94), the 30-year-old didn’t look to get out of second gear as he struggled to put a dent in the Polish man across the ten rounds.
“I do wish I knocked him out, but do you know what, we got the ten rounds in the bag”, Buatsi told Sky post-fight.
“I haven’t boxed in almost a year so it was nice to get the rounds in but we wanted to stop him.
“There was ring rust and all of that stuff but that wasn’t in my mind. I said Stepien – I’ve got ten rounds to get you out of there.
“Credit to him, he did well, he’s a good fighter but I got the win.”
Since turning professional in July 2017, Buatsi has won all 17 of his contests with 13 ending inside the distance.
The Rio 2016 Olympian only has a British title to his name however which he vacated almost immediately after picking it up in 2019.
Though he never appeared troubled in Birmingham, an increase in urgency is now surely needed both inside and outside of the ring if his potential is to be realised.
Despite being touted as one of the sport’s brightest talents when he turned over, Anthony Yarde and Dan Azeez have both leapfrogged him in terms of their own career progression at 175lbs.
Yarde has already fought for world honours on two occasions while Azeez has tied the British, Commonwealth and European belts together in the space of 18 months.
Speaking to Sky post-fight, Azeez welcomed a clash with Buatsi later in the year.
“He [Buatsi] is up there, man. It’s good to see he’s got the ball rolling again.”
Buatsi says the fight, which should be relatively straight-forward to make given they share the same promoter, could take place later in 2023.
“Our rankings are one apart. If it’s May, I don’t see why there’d be a frown upon it.
“It’s cos we’re familiar with Dan Azeez why people say ‘don’t fight Dan, don’t fight Dan’. He’s a good fighter.”
The showdown makes sense for both men as they look to continue their assent to world level in the light-heavyweight division.
Newport’s Lauren Price made history in the chief support as she became the first ever female British champion.
The 28-year-old dominated Wolverhampton’s Kirstie Bavington across ten rounds to claim the British welterweight crown.
Price’s amateur pedigree shone throughout the contest as her speed with both hand and feet proved too difficult for Bavington to match.
Though not through lack of effort, the Midlander could not close the distance between herself and Price who won all ten rounds on the three judge’s scorecards.
Price appeared emotional post-fight as she added the title to her Olympic gold medal from Tokyo in 2021.
“I can’t put it into words really. After coming back from the Olympics, I’ve got to say that was a dream of mine and now to come to the pro game, starting all over again, in my fourth pro fight and first ten-rounder, I’m British champion”, Price said.
“I can’t really sum it up but to add more history to my name is a complete honour. Big shoutout to Kirstie, she’s a fantastic fighter. She’s a fit girl, she’s tough – I knew I needed to be on my A game.”
Further down the card, light-heavyweight Ben Whittaker entertained the Birmingham crowd as he floored Jordan Grant on the way to a third-round stoppage in his third outing.
A sharp right floored the Scotsman in the final minute of the second before a short left hook put him down for good in the third.
Tyler Denny also overcame Macauley McGowan by split-decision after ten close-fought rounds at middleweight, while Sean McComb boxed to a narrow unanimous decision victory over Kaisee Benjamin at 140lbs.
FULL CARD RESULTS:
- JOSHUA BUATSI UD 10 PAWEL STEPIEN (Light-Heavyweight)
- LAUREN PRICE UD 10 KIRSTIE BAVINGTON (Vacant British Welterweight title)
- BEN WHITTAKER TKO 3 JORDAN GRANT (Light-Heavyweight)
- TYLER DENNY SD 10 MACAULEY MCGOWAN (Middleweight)
- SEAN MCCOMB UD 10 KAISEE BENJAMIN (Super-Lightweight)
- CORI GIBBS PTS 8 JIMMY FIRST (Lightweight)
- SHAKAN PITTERS PTS 8 JOEL MCINTYRE (Light-Heavyweight)
- DANNY QUARTERMAINE TKO 4 CHRISTIAN FLORES (Lightweight)
Featured image: Lawrence Lustig/BOXXER.