Only two years into his professional career, Joshua Buatsi has already had several fights at major venues. That includes appearances at Principality Stadium and the O2 Arena in the U.K. It also includes an appearance at Madison Square Garden as part of the Anthony Joshua-Andy Ruiz Jr. undercard on June 1 — and that has only whetted his appetite for being on boxing's biggest stages.
“I think for me, Madison Square Garden was an experience,” Buatsi, who fights Ryan Ford on Saturday’s Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Luke Campbell undercard, told DAZN News. “Would I turn it down if I was offered that again? I definitely wouldn’t. Boxing on the big cards, the big shows, I definitely crave that.
“MSG was just different because there have been a lot of legendary fights that have happened there. To box there, I was like, ‘Wow!’ I’ve watched fights on YouTube of good fighters that have fought there, but then to actually fight there myself was an amazing opportunity.”
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Although Buatsi enjoyed soaking in the experience at "the world's most famous arena," he still has plenty of fighting to do back in the U.K., including on this weekend's card at the O2. The unbeaten Buatsi, who was born in Ghana and moved to England when he was 9, wants to keep the British fans that have supported him happy, and that means staying put for the time being.
“Personally, in that aspect, I’d like to build more in the U.K. before branching out to the U.S, but as a fighter, I would definitely say it’s a U.K. job for me at the moment. I live here, train here, so it’s only right to build here and give the fans of this country what they want before I branch out.”
When he does branch out, Batsui also has a dream to fight in Ghana one day. He says growing up in Ghana taught him life lessons, including to be grateful of everything.
“You see the different types of lifestyles (in Ghana)," Batsui said. "You see very rich people, poor people and very, very poor people. You learn the lesson of surviving and getting along with as little as possible. You see people living their lives when they don’t know where their next meal is coming from, but they are still happy and getting on with life. I learned to get on with things. That’s a lesson I learned. I remember just being grateful for everything and just helping those that needed help when I could.
"I don’t think I would have learned any of that growing up in the U.K. I can’t say that for definite, but because I grew up in Ghana, I can say that they are the lessons I learned by growing up there. It definitely gave me a better grounding. My family, my friends and who I have around me, they kind of hold me down in the sense that no one is there to blow anyone’s trumpet and we are all grateful for everything that we have, and that helps to keep me level-headed”.
That humble approach is evident when Buatsi is asked to describe his fighting style. Many boxers like to compare themselves to greats of the past, but that's not the case with Buatsi, who says there's nothing flashy about his style, and that he likes to focus on the basics.
He also says that there's more to boxing than just trying to keep an unbeaten record, which seems to be the emphasis these days. Yes, Buatsi is confident each time he steps in the ring, but he also says what you learn from that defeat is what matters.
“It’s important to not want to be defeated at any point to be fair with you,” Buatsi said. “If you look at all the great fighters, they’ve all got defeats on their records. It’s about the lessons that you learn from it. No fighter should want to be beaten, but someone has to lose. It’s how you bounce back from it. I think the media puts pressure on fighters, like ‘oh you’ve lost, that’s it,’ trying to write off people's careers when in life in general people take losses, and it’s how you move on from it.”Former heavyweight champion Frank Bruno once said, “Boxing is just show business with blood.” Buatsi believes there is more to the fight game than just the fighting itself.
“I got into boxing because of the individuality of the sport,” Buatsi said. “I say individuality, and it’s like OK, ‘I could have done tennis, or I could have done golf’. But the fact that there are two people and somebody must win. There’s the ‘Macho Man’ thought behind it.
“When you get in the sport, you find out it’s an art, a craft and something you have to learn. (You) have to put hours and hours into it to master it and to make it look easy or to carry out what you have been studying in training but to do it as naturally as possible. That’s the challenging bit about it, and it blows my mind away. When I see people do it effortlessly, you just have to stand up and take your hat off to them. It’s a lot of hard work, and anyone that gets into the ring to fight and put it all on the line has my utmost respect. Why would you stand up for somebody to hit you in the head? It makes no sense. I’m learning all the time that it’s not just about fighting. There’s a whole heap of stuff that comes with it. What you learn about yourself as an individual, whether boxing benefits you financially, whether boxing puts you in positions or helps you meet people of great influence, for me fighting is one part of boxing there are many other aspects to it.”
Buatsi (11-0, 9 KOs) is making his fourth title defense of the WBA international light heavyweight belt against Ford (16-4, 11 KOs). Knocking out nine of his 11 opponents, Buatsi knows the fans will all be expecting another knockout performance, but that isn’t high up on his list of things he wants to accomplish. Styles make fights, and Buatsi is all about getting the little things right rather than putting too much pressure on himself in trying to land the knockout punch.
“I don’t go looking for the knockout, but if my opponent shows the slightest sense of vulnerability then I’ll know it’s time to get them out of there," Buatsi said. I always keep in the back of mind that the people want to be entertained, but I go out there to box and to follow instructions, but if I see an opening and I feel it’s time to take them out then I’ll take them out.”