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Joshua Buatsi dreams of taking world title fights to Ghana one day but insisted his attentions are fixed on the “most important test of my career” against Craig Richards.
Buatsi, who was born in Ghana but moved to the UK aged nine with his family, claimed Olympic bronze at Rio 2016 and has made a favourable impression since turning professional, winning all 15 fights.
He faces arguably his toughest test in former world title challenger Richards this weekend, with local pride at stake for south Londoners who started boxing at the same South Norwood and Victory ABC club.
While Buatsi is confident he is now ready for the light-heavyweight’s elite, he knows he cannot afford to overlook Richards, who was narrowly outpointed by WBA champion Dmitry Bivol 12 months ago.
Asked if he feels he is ready for a world title shot, Buatsi told the PA news agency: “I do. The aim is to handle the business and then move on from that.
“But this is the most important test of my career. Would I say it’s the toughest? I would dub it as the most important, it’s the next fight and one that I have to win.”
Buatsi is one of Britain’s top prospects but is also proud of his Ghanaian roots, having spent many of his formative years in Tema, a short distance from the capital city of Accra, and he regularly visits his many relatives who still live there.
So while boxing on the biggest stages in Britain is in his sights, he also finds the idea of a big fight night in Ghana very appealing.
The 29-year-old said: “The obvious one is Wembley and the States. For me, I want to box in Ghana one day. You’re allowed to dream.
“It’s a place that I’m from, I’m deeply connected to it. I remember what it was like growing up there, I’m going out there in a few weeks’ time and I’m looking forward to that as well.
“The lifestyle is different to what it is here. Of course I’ve got loads of family there, there’s a sense of freedom that you have when you’re there. It’s beautiful, man.”
Whoever wins between Buatsi and Richards at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday night would move closer to a world title shot, although there are some intriguing domestic fights to be made at 175lbs.
Callum Smith, the former world super-middleweight champion, Callum Johnson and Anthony Yarde join Buatsi in being ranked in the top five by at least one of the four major sanctioning bodies.
“There’s a good bunch of us in the light-heavy division,” Buatsi said. “The only way we can get the correct rankings of who should be where is either we fight each other or someone gets a world title.
“That would separate themselves from everyone else. You’d be a world champion – what can anyone else say to you? We either box each other or find different paths to get that world title.”
Chantelle Cameron defends her WBC and IBF light-welterweight titles on the undercard and is adamant she is not taking former world lightweight champion Victoria Noelia Bustos lightly.
The 31-year-old from Northampton had hoped for an undisputed fight against WBA and WBO champion Kali Reis but the American is taking time out for personal health issues, so Argentina’s Bustos steps into the fray.
Cameron told PA: “If I get beaten then my undisputed fight will never happen. I’d lose my belts, we’d be back to the drawing board and it would be the start of a long, long journey again.
“I don’t want to have to climb the ladder again. I never got the opportunity to just fight for a world title so soon in my career, I had to have mandatories and wait around so I can’t lose.”