It’s over to Yarde as continued talks for huge Buatsi fight gather momentum

Boxxer promoter Ben Shalom has said talks over a proposed light-heavyweight clash between his fight Joshua Buatsi and Queensberry star Anthony Yarde have been going on for months.

That is the fight Shalom wants next, too, for Buatsi, coming off his impressive victory over Dan Azeez in London last weekend.

Buatsi joined Boxxer from Matchroom last year, and the 30-year-old improved to 18-0 (13KOs) defeating Azeez.

“I think we will be able to do a deal with Queensberry, and I think that’s a fight both parties want,” Shalom said, of Yarde-Buatsi being on the horizon. “I want to make the Yarde fight next, that can happen next. I think both fighters want it.”

Yarde is in action tomorrow, against Marko Nikolic at the Copper Box in his second fight since his gruelling defeat to unified light-heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev.

“There have been [preliminary discussions] and there have been since last year, there still are, and there have been since Saturday [after Buatsi’s fight] and I know Anthony Yarde fights on Saturday, anything can happen in boxing.”

Buatsi is rated No. 1 for the WBA title held by Dmitrii Bivol, who faces Artur Beterbiev in Saudi for all of the belts in one of the year’s best fights, but Shalom does not think Buatsi will sit and wait for his shot.

“There’s a temptation [to wait] because it’s the next mandatory to be called, so I’d expect it to be called subject to any rematches, after June 1,” Shalom explained. “That’s a great position to be in, and a very exciting position to be in, but Buatsi is very confident with any fight right now and he wants the big fights and he wants to stay active so that [Yarde]’s the fight he wants.”

Yarde is 24-3 and has also declared his interest in London rival Buatsi in what would be a huge fight that could feasibly be held in a stadium.

“I’d like it to be,” said Shalom.

“What gave me confidence with Azeez-Buatsi is how well it sold. Those aren’t ticket-sellers and they won’t mind me saying it, but they aren’t coming with 1,000 friends and family, these are guys that sold the fight on the basis of what a great fight it was. That was it. The appetite in British boxing is clearly there if they can sell out Wembley Arena. Buatsi-Yarde is on a whole other level, so I’m very excited for boxing. Boxing in London, as well, which is traditionally harder to sell, so it’s given me a whole lot of confidence for that fight.”

Buatsi seemed a nailed-on prospect after medalling in the Rio Olympics, but his journey so far in the pros has not been plain-sailing, and for Shalom, that made Saturday more rewarding.

“I’m delighted for him,” said the promoter. “He’s been dying for big fights, dying for big nights, dying for British fights and I think he couldn’t believe how it sold, it was a new experience for him and I’m delighted he gets his career moving now.” 

Shalom was equally happy for Azeez, who despite defeat, came out of the night with plenty of credit. 

“I think Dan Azeez as well, that was the most rewarding night – possibly – of my career so far, because to get Dan Azeez to headline in Wembley from where we started was special,” Shalom added. “And he said on his way out [after the fight] it was a dream come true, despite the result. Both of their stocks rose, both of them have big fights to go, but it was definitely a breakout fight for Buatsi and there’s nowhere to go other than the biggest fights.”