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Buatsi vs Bolotniks Analysis and Prediction

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Joshua Buatsi (14-0, 12KO) vs Ricards Bolotniks (18-5-1, 8KO)

Light Heavyweight (175)

WBA International Light Heavyweight Title

Joshua Buatsi

Twenty-eight years old already, the Rio 2016 Olympian is primed to make his first baby step towards world level competition. Bolotniks may never have fought for a world title himself, but the Latvian has emerged as a European titan over the past couple of years. Light Heavyweight is a fairly barren division outside of the belt holders. It raises the question then, why isn’t Buatsi challenging his British counterparts? Bolotniks is a fine test, but the public wants to see Buatsi against Anthony Yarde, Lyndon Arthur, Callum Johnson and Craig Richards.

Again, it is understandable why Buatsi continues to climb the WBA rankings. Current WBA champ, Dmitry Bivol, looked thoroughly average in his last defence against Richards. Eddie knows that a fighter with a world title brings in more dollar bills, but in the process, it over matures domestic fights that have the potential to be Hall of Famers. Callum Johnson isn’t getting any younger, Yarde may well mentally implode under Tunji’s regime, and Arthur may have already secured the WBO by then.

Minor head-scratching aside, Joshua Buatsi is a loveable character to follow inside and outside the ring. In a sluggish performance against Marko Calic, Buatsi was at risk of losing his undefeated record. Calic, a fine amateur, out-manoeuvred a flat Buatsi who was peppered at range. Showing the heart of a champion, however, Buatsi forced his way inside Calic’s long limbs and broke the Croatian’s jaw. After such a scare, Buatsi looked like a fighter reborn against Daniel dos Santos. Despite occasions of static head movement at range, Buatsi was more far more active with his jab. Often just using his jab to tap an opponents guard, Buatsi prefers to commit to the body. Body jabs, straights and liver shots are utilised early, aiming to draw an opponents guard down, and leave their chin open later.

Ricards Bolotniks

It is seemingly now or never for Ricards Bolotniks if he wants to climb towards a world title. After earning himself a fair bit of notoriety with a Golden Contract LHW tournament win, Bolotniks appears to have tightened his game over recent years. The Latvian may have his fair share of stoppage defeats, yet most occurred during his early career in difficult (likely too difficult) fights. Having trained with fellow countryman, Mairis Briedis, for the past couple of years – Bolotniks’ game has grown immensely.

Maintaining his aggressive, front-foot style, Bolotniks has refined his distance management and ring-cutting. Against Serge Michel in the Golden Contract LHW final, Bolotniks slipped almost every shot from Michel during the first two rounds through excellent positioning away. Standing just at the end of striking range, Bolotniks patiently waited for Michel to over-extend before pressuring his unbalanced opponent out of the centre. With Michel suffocated to the ropes, and the distance closed, Bolotniks opened up with long combinations – often starting with a digging uppercut. Despite a furious pace between both Bolotniks and Michel during the mid-rounds, the Latvian sustained his output.

Despite improvements to his counter-punching, it is still a laboured part of Bolotniks’ game. Buatsi possesses the strength to keep Bolotniks tied on his back-foot and unable to unleash his dangerous combinations on the inside. Micki Nielsen earned easy rounds against Bolotniks after the Latvian strangely attempted to stick and move. While Bolotniks will not make the same mistake again, Buatsi’s jab and educated feints may well prove too great a hurdle. Unlike Nielsen, Buatsi doesn’t linger watching his work – the only times that the Dane was hit cleanly.

Predicted Result: Buatsi TKO Round 8

Even with a career resurgence, Buatsi should prove to be a stylistic nightmare for the Latvian. Micki Nielsen was able to keep Bolotniks pinned on his back-foot with his straight shots. Buatsi’s probing jab, excellent feints and bodywork can keep Bolotniks unwilling to close the distance. Of course, since training with Mairis Briedis, Bolotniks’ distance management has improved immensely. Serge Michel was continually frustrated during the Golden Contract LHW final as he was unable to catch Bolotniks who was teasing just at the end of the German’s reach. Buatsi’s mastery of the jab, utilising it at times as a range-finder, will overcome this hurdle. Worse yet, Bolotniks’ defensive footwork is almost non-existent. While the head may be hard to touch, Buatsi’s tendency to target the body early will cause the Latvian huge troubles. For Bolotniks to win would require him to drag Buatsi into an ugly dog fight. Tangling limbs, standing on feet and using the head in the clinch – anything to stop Buatsi settling into a rhythm. Unfortunately for Bolotniks, he prefers a clean war on the inside, with a bit of breathing room to unleash his combinations. 

Buatsi destroyed poor ol' dos Santos | Buatsi vs Bolotniks
Buatsi destroyed poor ol’ dos Santos | Buatsi vs Bolotniks

Want to view analysis and predictions for all the match-ups on Buatsi vs Bolotniks?


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