The second season of Matchroom Boxing’s Fight Camp series held on the grounds of the family estate of promoter Eddie Hearn in a beautiful scenic setting in Brentwood, England has largely focused in its first two weeks on the 126lb. Featherweight division. A focus that in part was magnified by undefeated Welterweight contender Conor Benn being forced to withdraw from his scheduled July 31st bout against Adrian Granados, which was to headline week one of the season due to Benn testing positive for the COVID-19 virus. As most know, this led to back to back weeks where two Featherweight bouts that were at or near the top of the division took centerstage. As those first two weeks have been covered extensively by this observer here on The Boxing Truth®️, week three, which will bring the 2021 season of Matchroom Fight Camp to its conclusion will see the focus shift away from the Featherweight division and center on the 175lb. Light-Heavyweight division.
Headlining week three of Matchroom Fight Camp will be undefeated top-ten rated Light-Heavyweight contender Joshua Buatsi as he will look to take another step towards a potential shot at a world championship when he faces fellow top-ten Light-Heavyweight contender Ricards Bolotniks in a fight scheduled for twelve rounds. For Buatsi, a fighter currently rated in the top-ten in all five major world sanctioning organizations, the WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO, he appears on the verge of challenging for a world championship perhaps as early as next year. In fourteen bouts as a professional, Buatsi has scored knockouts in twelve of those fights registering a career knockout percentage of over 85%. This included his last fight in May when he scored a brutal fourth round knockout of Daniel Dos Santos. A fight that saw Buatsi drop his opponent twice with the second knockdown resulting in Dos Santos being knocked out cold before he hit the canvas.
Based not only on that performance, but also his record up to this point, it is not hard to understand why the twenty-eight year old Buatsi has established himself as a “Knockout Artist.” Although being able to establish such a label has the benefit of generating interest and stirring buzz amongst both Boxing fans and experts, the negative effect could be that it forces a fighter in Buatsi’s position to literally fight his way into a mandatory challenger position as some fighters and to be more specific the promoters of said fighters who might be world champions could view a fighter like Buatsi as dangerous and the type of fight to avoid until such time as it makes sense from a business standpoint that makes what is likely viewed as a risk, worth it for champions, their handlers, and finally their promoters.
While such approaches while strategic are often criticized heavily by fans who may not understand the business side of the sport of Boxing, unfortunately, this is the reality many fighters in Buatsi’s current position may have to navigate as they climb their way up the rankings. There is also the obvious danger a fighter in this position faces in the possibility of potentially looking past an opponent and towards a more lucrative opportunity.
In Ricards Bolotniks, Buatsi will face a veteran of twenty-four professional fights that will enter the bout with a record of 18-5-1, with 8 Knockouts. Bolotniks, is currently rated number five in the world by the World Boxing Organization (WBO), two positions above Buatsi, who is currently rated number seven by the same organization. The thirty-one year old Bolotniks also currently holds the WBO version of the European Light-Heavyweight championship. Bolotniks scored a tenth round stoppage of Serge Michel in defense of that championship in his last fight in December of last year.
Although Bolotniks will also enter this fight on a seven fight winning streak, stylistically, it appears he might be facing an uphill battle against Buatsi. This is due to both Buatsi’s strength as well as his punching power and ability to almost systematically walk his opponents down as he did in his last fight against Dos Santos. Bolotniks meanwhile, is a very tactical fighter that is a good counter puncher. What may be a red flag for Bolotniks however, is despite his counter punching ability, he tends to show a hesitance in letting his hands go.
While some might say this approach is strictly used as a means of creating opens, the flip side of that is it can also create scenarios where he is not active enough to earn the benefit of the doubt in terms of winning rounds as judges score the fight. In this case, Bolotniks will be facing a fighter in Buatsi that likes to come forward and because of his punching power, he has the ability to do damage and hurt an opponent with either hand. Although the possibility always exists that an offensive-minded fighter can get caught by a disciplined counter puncher if they become overly aggressive, Bolotniks must find a happy medium in this fight and must figure out a way to discourage Buatsi from coming forward. If Bolotniks’ approach simply consists of sitting behind a high defensive guard and only looking to land punches on any openings that Buatsi might leave him, it is unlikely based on his record that he has the type of punching power that can end a fight with one punch. If he does not mix his approach up in this fight it will likely play into Buatsi’s hands.
There will be two other bouts on the undercard featuring unbeaten fighters at varying stages of their careers. Rising unbeaten American Featherweight Raymond Ford has gradually been gaining steam in his young career competing under the Matchroom banner. In nine professional fights, Ford has posted a record of 8-0-1, with 4 Knockouts. Now Ford will look to step up in his first scheduled ten round bout as he faces Reece Bellotti. Although Belloti is in the opponent role from a promotional standpoint in this fight, he does represent a step up not only to the ten round distance for Ford, but more importantly, a step up in class of opposition.
A veteran of eighteen professional fights, Bellotti has a record of 14-4, with 12 Knockouts and has stopped nearly 67% of his opponents inside the distance. This not only represents an edge in experience for Bellotti, but also an element of danger, which Ford has not really faced up to this point. In his four losses, Bellotti has only been stopped once and is a former Commonwealth Featherweight champion so it will be interesting to see how Ford performs against a fighter of Belloti’s caliber.
Undefeated WBO number four rated Welterweight contender Michael McKinson will also be in action as he will face Przemyslaw Runowski in a bout scheduled for twelve rounds. McKinson is a former holder of the WBO’s version of the European championship in the 147lb. Welterweight division and appears close to a potential world title shot at least as far as the WBO is concerned with a high ranking. The twenty-seven year old McKinson is unbeaten in twenty pro bouts and has also shown that he is a distance fighter having only two knockouts in those twenty career wins.
In Przemyslaw Runowski, McKinson will face a veteran of twenty professional bouts much like himself. In those twenty professional fights, Runowski has a record of 19-1, with 5 Knockouts. Although Runowski has a slightly higher percentage when it comes to stopping opponents inside the distance, he has not faced a fighter who is rated in the top-ten as McKinson is and it will be interesting to see what Runowski, who is not currently rated in the top fifteen in the WBO Welterweight ratings, brings to the table in a fight where at least on paper, there are some similarities both in terms of the fighters respective records, as well as being equal in age.
Thus far, season two of Matchroom Fight Camp has lived up to the promotional slogan of “No Easy Fights” and this has produced back to back weeks of entering cards. As we now look towards the season finale, this observer is very intrigued to see what happens next.
And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
Matchroom Fight Camp: Buatsi vs. Bolotniks takes place on Saturday, August 14th at Matchroom Headquarters in Brentwood, England. The entire card can be seen globally on digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN beginning with a Matchroom Before The Bell pre-fight show that will feature a portion of preliminary bouts beginning at 12:30PM ET/9:30 AM PT. This will be followed by the main card, which will begin at 2PM ET/11AM PT (*U.S. Times.)
For more information about DAZN including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices/platforms/Smart TVs, availability around the world, local start times in your area, and to subscribe please visit: www.DAZN.com.
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