Former World Title Challenger Craig Richards (17-3-1) suffered the third defeat of his career last Saturday in front of a 5,000 crowd at the O2 Arena, London. Spider Richards showed immense heart and durability in the tight points loss (115-113, 115-113, and 116-112) to Top 10 Light Heavyweight, Ghanaian-British Joshua Buatsi (16-0).
Craig Richards has taken tough fights time and again from stepping in at late notice and up weight classes to face Frank Buglioni, going to away territory to rip the British title off Shakan Pitters, and offering himself for a Dmitry Bivol fight. The domestic clash with Buatsi was another instalment of just that and there is no doubt that Richard’s stock has gone up in defeat instead of down.
However, that defeat has set Craig Richards many steps further from the second world title shot he wanted and now needs a good win streak to earn it back. Spider is above British Title level and now should target European titles and fringe world-level guys. Here are three options I would like to see Richards face in his next couple of fights.
Craig Richards vs Lyndon Arthur
Lyndon Arthur is a free agent after his stoppage defeat to Anthony Yarde in December and is a relatively easy person to make a fight with considering the lack of promotional commitments. As we well know, domestic fights sell. Especially one involving two fighters whose most recent fights have been headliners in big London shows against names like Yarde and Buatsi.
Furthermore, Arthur has a very marketable win over Anthony Yarde and beating Lyndon Arthur could do well for Craig Richards’ profile and ability to land big fights in 2023. This is a fight that could be a co-main event on any big card in Manchester or London and a fan-friendly fight for sure.
British Champion Dan Azeez
Dan Azeez, the current British light heavyweight champion, was mandatory for Craig Richards last year before Richards vacated for bigger fights but now with Richards coming off a defeat and Azeez coming off two (possibly 3 if the rumoured fight with Pitters goes through) significant wins on a big platform, the fight makes a lot more sense.
Azeez is currently with BOXXER/Sky Sports which obviously presents the cross-platform problem but should the fight be ordered for say a vacant European title it could come to fruition. Richards and Azeez are #6 and 8 and we can safely rule out at least the top 3 from boxing for the title. Alternatively, there could be a deal reached to make the fight on either platform.
Domestic Rival Callum Johnson
The most unlikely but arguably the best option is Callum Johnson. Johnson was with Matchroom until moving to Queensberry in early 2021. QP did deliver him a world title shot against Joe Smith Jr before Johnson caught COVID in January. With Johnson-Yarde not happening due to Yarde’s WBO #1 position, Craig Richards vs Callum Johnson is a fight that could make a lot of sense.
Johnson is a difficult client to get big fights for due to constant bad luck and injuries. Allowing Johnson to fight on a Matchroom show could be highly beneficial for Queensberry as he either comes back with a recognisable win and significant momentum or he loses which could lead to the end of his contract as it did with Lyndon Arthur.
All 3 of the names mentioned here are domestic fights and would be fights that the fans want to see but there are also some good international names such as Radivoje Kalajdzic, Robin Krasniqi and, Faris Chevalier.