Hearn Hints at Buatsi’s Potential to Fight Canelo as Bivol Solidifies Position as Elite Fighter

Eddie Hearn believes Joshua Buatsi cost himself the opportunity to fight Canelo Alvarez when he left Matchroom.

The light heavyweight, 30, has signed for BOXXER, having turned professional with Matchroom after Rio 2016.

When he did so he was regarded as one of British boxing’s finest prospects, but a world title fight has so far eluded him, partly because of his decision to leave Matchroom when they had hoped to match him with Dmitry Bivol, the WBA champion.

Bivol, regardless, is expected to fight Alvarez should Alvarez defeat John Ryder next month – despite losing to the Russian last year, Alvarez remains the world’s leading fighter – but Hearn insists that Buatsi could have fought both. 

“I don’t see any more levels,” Hearn told ProBox TV.  “When you’ve boxed British, European, you’ve beat [Craig] Richards; you’ve beat [Ricards] Bolotniks, there’s no other fights to take in that division. 

“It’s the natural fight to take, and he didn’t want to take it. The money we were able to offer – to challenge for a world title – £1.25m, and you can say there was an extension on it [the contract]. If you invest in a fighter to world-championship level – and by the way we had to secure the rematch with Bivol, which was contractual, which meant extending [Buatsi’s contract] by one [fight] anyway, of course we want an extra couple of fights to defend that, and here’s the money and you would probably have fought Canelo Alvarez.”

Hearn's Plan to Match Buatsi With Bivol Dashed as Bivol Emerges as Elite Fighter

Hearn had hoped to match Buatsi with Bivol before Bivol established himself as an elite fighter by so effortlessly beating Alvarez and Gilberto Ramirez across the course of a year that transformed his career. 

“Buatsi second guesses himself a lot,” said Hearn. “When Virgil Hunter came out after the Craig Richards fight and I said I’d like to take the Dimitrii Bivol fight now and Virgil was like, ‘No, no, no’. I was like, ‘Fucking hell’. Because the value then… 

“It’s great for the fighters, but you know to get four or five hundred grand to defend the title in a non-title fight against Stepien, in Birmingham – he didn’t sell out The O2 when he boxed Craig Richards… 

“We have to make a decision. We go to DAZN and say, ‘Look, we’ve got to pay [Lawrence] Okolie and Buatsi this or we’ve got to let them go'. ‘Well, let them go.’ 

“They boxed on our platform; we did no numbers with those fighters so it’s easy. If you don’t think it’s the right value, don’t worry.”