Betfair's boxing writer Frankie Monkhouse expects Buatsi to score another impressive stoppage win but he'll take his time to get the job done...
"Two of Buatsi’s last three fights have produced stoppage wins in the seventh round."
The Matchroom Boxing fight camp continues Saturday, and followers look forward to the latest outing of exciting light heavyweight Joshua Buatsi. The Londoner famously won bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games and has eased through the professional ranks since turning over in 2017.
Buatsi aims to continue his unbeaten run, but he must defeat experienced Latvian Ricards Bolotniks. This bout will be fought over 12 rounds with the WBA International title on the line, and although the Englishman is a strong favourite to win, his opponent has nothing to lose. This is Bolotniks' shot at glory and an opportunity to become an overnight sensation.
Will he grab it with both hands or end up nothing more than another stat on Buatsi's rise to the top?
Buatsi is unbeaten in 14 fights
Buatsi enters this bout with a perfect 14-fight record, with a dozen of his wins coming by knockout. The Croydon-based fighter is currently ranked number two in the UK and 12th in the world. The global list is dominated by Gilberto Ramirez, with Artur Beterbiev, Callum Smith, and Dmitry Bivol behind.
In May, the 6ft 2inch orthodox was last seen in action scoring an impressive fourth-round TKO win over Daniel Blenda Dos Santos at the Manchester Arena. He was in fine form that evening, taking out an opponent who had gone into the contest looking to protect a proud unbeaten record. Joshua was the favourite to win that contest, but few picked him to do it so early. The beaten man was sent to the canvas in round two and four before being stopped.
With Buatsi making a quickfire return to action, it's no surprise to see him supported heavily in the market. He's 1.071/14 at the Betfair Exchange to win the contest. Those looking for higher returns can try another KO/TKO at 1.331/3 or a rare points decision that trades at 4.2016/5.
Bolotniks here to spoil the party
Bolotniks has been written off before he steps into the ring with Buatsi, and followers of the fight game know that's always a dangerous stance to take. The away fighter's record does make it difficult to get excited about the chances of an upset, Ricards arriving in Essex with a professional record of 18 wins against five defeats and one draw. Eight of his victories have been by knockout, but he has been stopped three times himself, which sets alarm bells ringing.
The 31-year-old from Latvia is currently ranked 11th in the world, and he takes confidence from a winning run that covers seven fights and can be traced back to 2018. He's a man who appears to be enjoying his prime but is he ready for a leap up in the standard of opponent? We'll find out shortly after the bell chimes to signal the start of this contest.
Bolotniks has stopped two of his last three opponents inside the distance, and he made headlines when beating Britain's Hosea Burton on points in Riga over ten rounds last summer. Bolotniks is 7.06/1 to cement another victory with the KO/TKO looking to be his best chance at 8.07/1 despite his winning run.
Buatsi to do the business
Buatsi is a worthy favourite to win this fight, and although Bolotniks deserves our respect over the distance after beating Burton last year, we make the Brit a strong pick. There's little joy to be had in backing Joshua to win, so we head into the specials in search of value.
Two of Buatsi's last three fights have produced stoppage wins in the seventh round, while each of Bolotnik's last two outings has travelled the scheduled ten rounds distance. Take Buatsi to win in the second half of the contest and hope his opponent has the experience and ringcraft to make it to the later rounds.