Much of the fight talk early week centred around Billy Joe Saunders corner withdrawing him against accepted pound-for-pound #1 Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in Arlington, Texas last weekend after sustaining serious cheek and eye injuries. As the week unfolded fighters and pundits have largely rallied around trainer Mark Tibbs on making the right call for his fighter and hopefully prolonging the career of the Hatfield super-middleweight.
Recently Briton’s Kell Brook and Daniel Dubois have suffered similar fractured orbital socket injuries and although sidelined for many months have returned to the gym to continue their careers. Dubois, after being out since November 2020 is set to return on Saturday June 5th with a heavyweight contest against Romanian Bogdan Dinu. Whether Billy Joe, after earning a career high purse and going to the top of the mountain can regain the motivation to come again remains to be seen but The Undisputed wishes him well.
The other big ‘story’ was the announcement by Matchroom Chairman Eddie Hearn that the Anthony Joshua-Tyson Fury fight has been agreed and set for August 14th in Saudi Arabia. This led to counter claims from the Fury side (notably Frank Warren) that there were a number of things still to iron out. The on/off saga does nothing for boxing other than prolong the casual sports fans apathy towards the sport and it’s inability to make the biggest fight out there. They’ve been drip fed information for months on end and now there’s a date out there all interested parties need to make it happen.
It’s understandable this is a massive fight in a global context and it will break all box office records, if and when it takes place, and that the ‘politrics’ of boxing can be a minefield but, hopefully we are inching closer to a resolution.
Onto this weekend, the big fight in the UK is in the light-heavyweight (175lb/12st 7lb) division. This is arguably the hottest division in British boxing at the moment.
In Manchester tonight (15th May) world ranked Joshua Buatsi takes on Frenchman Daniel Blenda Dos Santos for the WBA International light heavyweight title.
Buatsi (13-0, 11 KO’s) with Ghanaian heritage but boxing out of Croydon enters the contest with much fanfare after transferring smoothly into the pros on gaining a bronze medal in the Rio Olympics. He’s looked better with each contest compiling a perfect record but hasn’t been in a paid fight since October 2020. In that, he had to tough it out to stop Croatian Marko Calic after suffering a serious eye swelling early in the fight.
Since then the 28 year old has been US-based and linked up with top trainer Virgil Hunter who guided former elite super-middleweight champion Andre Ward and briefly trained Amir Khan. It will be interesting to see what Buatsi has added to his bow during the evening after quality sparring in California.
Dos Santos (15-0, 8 KO’s) has a good record but no one of note on his resume. The 30 year old has served in the French Army and also ‘time’ in prison so is expected to be teak tough.
Interested onlookers will be British Commonwealth champion Lyndon Arthur (18-0, 12 KO’s) and fellow Brit Anthony Yarde (10-2, 19 KO’s) who could face big domestic showdowns in a three fighter series in the next few years. Yarde has already challenged for a ‘world’ title unsuccessfully against Russian Sergey Kovalev back in 2019 and Arthur is looking to secure one after narrowly defeating Yarde last December. With all three fighters around the 30 year mark, and close to their peak, this could be the new Benn-Eubank-Watson of the 175lb division.
Buatsi comes into tonight’s bout a heavy favourite and after feeling his way into the fight look for a mid-rounds stoppage of the Frenchman.
The fight card will be televised in the UK live on Sky Sports from 20:00 BST and worldwide on streaming platform DAZN. It will also be broadcast on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra.