Just over a month since putting pen to paper, British light-heavyweight Joshua Buatsi returns for his first fight under the BOXXER banner against Pawel Stepien on Saturday.
Birmingham’s Resorts World Arena hosts the action-packed card live on Sky Sports as Buatsi looks to finally gain momentum in his sixth year as a professional.
The 30-year-old parted ways with former promoter Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing, citing Sky’s larger platform as a key reason for the decision.
Despite the hype surrounding the Londoner when he entered the paid ranks, Buatsi’s careers has stuttered since.
Although yet to taste defeat as a pro, he has only fought three times in the last two years – most recently outpointing fellow Brit Craig Richards over ten rounds last May.
While injuries and the pandemic have not helped, there’s no doubting that many expected him to be further along in his progression as he enters his 30s.
Buatsi however insisted at the fight week press conference that a lack of activity will not hinder his performance this weekend.
“Whether I had a year, ten years, however long I had off – the goal remains the same. It’s not in my thinking process.
“He [Stepien] is a good boxer, he’s represented his country. Polish people are tough, they’re strong and competitive. I’m sure he’ll be strong and tough.”
Stepien enters the fight with a record of 18-0-1,(12KOs) but has not fought outside his native Poland.
The 32-year-old was set to face-off against Callum Smith in March before the Liverpudlian was forced to withdraw through injury.
Stepien now heads to the West Midlands knowing victory kickstarts his career in a way his previous 18 could not.
“Joshua Buatsi is a very good fighter. I have watched and studied his fights and I am happy that I can step in the ring with him on Saturday night and test my skills“, said Stepien.
History will be made further down the card as welterweights Lauren Price (3-0-0, 1KO) and Kirstie Bavington (7-3-2, 2KOs) face-off in the first ever female British title fight.
Price secured Olympic gold in Tokyo before dominating in her first three professional contests when she turned over at 147lbs last year.
Bavington also enjoyed a successful 2022, winning and defending the European crown at super-welterweight before losing a ten-round split-decision to Kandi Wyatt two months ago.
Rowley Regis’ Tyler Denny (16-2-3) also returns for his second outing of the year against Manchester’s Macauley McGowan (17-3-2, 3KOs) at middleweight.
Denny made the second defence of his English title versus Brad Pauls earlier in the year while McGowan was unlucky not to get the decision against Farrhad Saad in Paris in March.
Further down the card, Tokyo 2020 silver medalist Ben Whittaker (2-0-0, 1KO) fights in his home city for the first time as a pro as he takes on Jordan Grant (6-3-0) over six at light-heavyweight.
Belfast’s Sean McComb (15-1-0, 5KOs) also takes on Kaisee Benjamin (16-2-1, 6KOs) at super-lightweight while Cori Gibbs (17-1-0, 3KOs) and Jimmy First (14-1-0, 4KOs) also rematch five months on from their initial encounter at lightweight.
The first fight saw First announced a winner over eight rounds after Gibbs was deducted three points for repeatedly losing his gum shield.
- JOSHUA BUATSI vs PAWEL STEPIEN – Light-Heavyweight (12 x 3)
- LAUREN PRICE vs KIRSTIE BAVINGTON – vacant British Welterweight title (10 x 2)
- TYLER DENNY vs MACAULEY MCGOWAN – Middleweight (12 x 3)
- BEN WHITTAKER vs JORDAN GRANT – Light-Heavyweight (8 x 3)
- SEAN MCCOMB vs KAISEE BENJAMIN – Super-Lightweight (10 x 3)
- CORI GIBBS vs JIMMY FIRST – Lightweight (8 x 3)
- SHAKAN PITTERS vs JOEL MCINTYRE – Light-Heavyweight (8 x 3)
- DANNY QUARTERMAINE vs CHRISTIAN FLORES – Lightweight (4 x 3)
Featured image: Lawrence Lustig/BOXXER.