JOSHUA BUATSI VS MARKO CALIC – HOW WILL BUATSI PERFORM AFTER 14 MONTHS OUT OF THE RING
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Joshua Buatsi has long been considered one of the brightest prospects in the light heavyweight division and within the U.K. However, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist has not been able to gain the career momentum that many expected. After a long-awaited return to the ring by his fans, Joshua Buatsi vs Marco Calic takes place this weekend with no crowd.
Having last fought in August of 2019, a knockout win over Canadian Ryan Ford, Joshua Buatsi has suffered through illness and pandemic to get another opportunity in the ring. He most assuredly eyes his October 4th fight against Marko Calic as the springboard to resuming his path to a fight against one of the top light heavyweights in the world.
JOSHUA BUATSI VS MARKO CALIC
Joshua Buatsi comes into this fight with an undefeated record of 12-0, with 10 wins by way of knockout. Like many prospects, Buatsi has been put in the ring with far inferior fighters in an effort to boost his experience and confidence. However, Buatsi’s competition level has increased over his last four fights, beginning his fight against Liam Conroy in March of 2019.
Buatsi proved more than up for the task and was victorious by knockout in the 4th round. Buatsi followed this win with a 3rd round knockout of Mexican fighter Marco Antonio Periban.
The win over Periban is notable because Periban previously went the distance with established fighters such as Sakio Bika and Badou Jack, the current #6 Ring rated light heavyweight, with the Jack fight ending in a majority draw. Given Periban’s strong chin and extensive ring experience, Buatsi’s knockout victory was impressive.
Buatsi continued his success with a 7th round knock of a game, but out-matched, Ryan Ford. Ford did force Buatsi to taste leather on several occasions early in the fight. Yet, Buatsi took each of the punches well, kept his composure, and used his superior skill and strength to put Ford away.
Marko Calic is a relatively unknown Croatian fighter. Since turning professional in 2016, Calic has fought three times per year in fights throughout Europe. Calic is undefeated, with a record of 11-0, and he has earned 6 wins by way of knockout. Calic’s competition has been far inferior to that of Buatsi. In what was likely expected to be a step up in competition, in 2018, Calic fought a then 6-1 fighter Beka Mukhulishvili. The fight went the full 6 rounds and Calic won by unanimous decision. Since that fight, Mukhulishvili has lost six fights in a row, proving Mukhulishvili is not the fighter some may have predicted. In September of 2019, Calic fought journeyman Balazs Horvath. Calic wasted no time in knocking Horvath out in the first round. Likely due to the lack of time in the ring, Calic fought again approximately a month later against Serhii Zhuk. Calic won by unanimous decision over Serhii Zhuk. This win is not of much note, since, including his loss to Calic, Zhuk has lost his last 5 fights. It’s clear that Buatsi will be Calic’s first experience with real talent in the ring.
Given his pedigree and fight history, Buatsi is a heavy favourite to defeat Calic. Calic cannot be seen as anything but a rust remover for Buatsi as Buatsi returns to the ring after a layoff lasting over a year. Buatsi’s strength and skill will likely prove to be too much for Calic and Buatsi should remain undefeated. Unfortunately, a win by Buatsi is unlikely to result in a big money fight for Buatsi.
Before his extended layoff, Buatsi had been mentioned as a potential opponent for Ring #1 rated light heavyweight Artur Beterbiev, although those mentions never materialized into serious negotiations. Not mentioned as of yet, Ring #4 rated light heavyweight contender Joe Smith, Jr. may be an excellent option for Buatsi. Styles make fights and Buatsi vs Smith, Jr. would bring fireworks from the beginning for what would be expected to be an action-packed fight. Still, the most talked-about the potential opponent is Ring #10 rated light heavyweight Anthony Yarde. While the all-British fight would have mass appeal both locally and worldwide, such a fight is likely at least a year away at best. Yarde’s trainer Tunde Ajayi has made it clear that Buatsi has more work to do before stepping in the ring with Yarde. Perhaps Buatsi will be able to put in such work with heavy-handed countryman Callum Johnson, who has made known his interest in a fight with Buatsi. A win against Johnson by Buatsi should prove to Ajayi that a fight with Yarde is prime for public consumption. Even so, Buatsi must take care of business against Calic on October 4 or any push for a fight against Yarde will disappear.
British boxing fans will be routing for Buatsi to make a statement on his long-awaited return to the ring and fully expect him to come out with a win, but, will the undefeated Croatian cause more issues for him than most expect?