Boxing: Joshua Buatsi excited to show how much he has improved under Virgil Hunter

  • Tom Ward
Joshua Buatsi

Joshua Buatsi plans to show fans a new and improved version of himself when he defends his WBA International light-heavyweight title against undefeated Frenchman Daniel Blenda Dos Santos at the AO Arena, Manchester on Saturday May 15, live on Sky Sports and DAZN.

Unbeaten Buatsi (13-0, 11 KOs) survived an early scare before stopping Croatia’s Marko Calic in the seventh round in his comeback bout. The British light-heavyweight was fighting for the first time in almost a year and a half.

Understandably, the 28-year-old Olympic bronze medallist from Croydon wasn’t completely satisfied with his performance and moved his camp to San Francisco, under new trainer Virgil Hunter, in anticipation of his upcoming fight.

Although Buatsi has worked with several coaches over the years, this is the first time in his four-year professional career he’s actually held camp outside of the UK. 

He started his amateur career at the South Norwood and Victory club, going back to 2015, and trained under boxing coach Terry Smith the majority of his career.   

“In my last fight I found out that if I have to dig deep because it’s not going my way, I’m capable of doing it,” Buatsi said to DAZN. “That’s in the bank now. Before that fight I thought it was in the bank, I was convinced it was in the bank, but I’d never been tested. Now that I have been tested and I had to show a bit of guts, I know it’s there.

“I met Virgil Hunter at the first Joshua vs. Ruiz fight in New York in 2019. I went over to him to introduce myself and he told me he knew who I was. I told him I was going to come and train with him one day, and he said the door to his gym was open whenever I was ready. After my last fight in October I said, ‘I’m out of here’. I’ve come out here to learn more and add things to my game.

“It’s totally different living out here. It’s great, it’s nice and the views are amazing, I’ve never seen anything like it, but I’m here just for boxing. The main goal is purely to come out here to gain experience and learn as much as I can. It’s going really well so far.

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Buatsi, who is represented by Anthony Joshua’s management company 258 MGT, has been closely following the career of the WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight champion of the world.

‘Just Business’ is not just learning from Joshua, however, as the undefeated Brit admitted that he’s also found inspiration from Hunter’s former pupil Andre Ward. 

“I wasn’t really watching a lot of professional boxing in the amateurs,” he added. “I started to watch it when I was about 17 or 18. I came across Andre Ward and started watching his fights, listening out for what he was being told in the corner and stuff like that. I knew then Virgil was a good trainer. I said at the time I’d love to be trained by Virgil, but I didn’t ever think in a million years I’d be in the States training with him.

“Sometimes in the corner, it’s not really even boxing advice that he’s giving me, it’s just something totally different. It’s linked to boxing, so I’ll do it and I’ll be like, ‘cool, that worked’. It’s a whole different spin and approach from him but I’m really enjoying it.”


WBA International light-heavyweight champion Buatsi from Accra, Ghana, makes the seventh defence of his belt when he faces Dos Santos of Pont-Sainte-Maxence, France, in the main event on Saturday night, but despite the fact nothing is known about his fellow unbeaten contender, the former British light-heavyweight champion isn’t fazed in the slightest by the undefeated Frenchman and says the outcome will remain the same. 

He continued: “As always, I look to go in there, and I look to handle business. I don’t really go too much into reading about opponents and their previous fights, because how they boxed someone else is not how they’re going to box me. I’ll be there listening to the instructions that Virgil is going to give me. I’m very excited. I’m looking forward to showing people what I’ve been learning out here.

“Ultimately, I’m fighting to win. However it looks, my primary goal is to always win. We’ll be stepping up. Whoever they put in front of me, I’ll look to get rid of them and to keep building and learning. I’ve got older heads around me to guide what I’m doing. You have to consider what they’ve got to say because they’ve been there and done it.”

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