Anthony Joshua has pressure like no one else has – Joshua Buatsi

Joshua Buatsi finds himself in a big fight on October 21 when he meets his friend, former sparring partner and South London rival Dan Azeez at the O2 Arena. 

Buatsi was a decorated amateur who captured bronze at the 2016 Olympics in Rio and for many he was the pick of the Team GB crop as a professional. And while he is 18-0, many felt Buatsi would have been a world champion by now, but for one reason or another his career has not progressed as anticipated.

The pressure is always on for top former amateurs to deliver and Buatsi was prepared for the expectation but still, he contends what he feels does not compare to the burden of hope that is pinned on the shoulders of his 2012 Olympic counterpart Anthony Joshua.

Joshua defeated Robert Helenius last weekend after the Finland heavyweight was brought in at late notice following adverse analytical findings in Dillian Whyte’s VADA test. 

Joshua won via seventh round stoppage but there was not just an expectation that he would win but that he would win well. With Helenius still in the fight in the third round, sections of the O2 Arena crowd began to boo, and there was more derision in the sixth.

“Let me tell you something,” Buatsi said. “The pressure he [Joshua] has is the pressure that no one has. His pressure is different to ours so I don’t even like to talk about AJ like that. The pressure that he has is one that none of us in this country face in boxing. That’s just a fact. That’s something to accept. His pressure is different. Boxing at the O2 against a good opponent [in Dan Azeez], yes, it’s a lot of pressure, but the pressure he [AJ] has I feel is way more than all of us.”

For Buatsi, it’s a no brainer and it is not even close. It is something he can’t relate to nor does he wish to be able to. But he does sympathise with Joshua.

“Absolutely,” Buatsi added. “That’s why I say, hearing the boos, I was saying like, why are people booing? Boxing’s hard enough as it is when there’s an expectation, yes, but he dropped the guy in seven rounds and did what he had to do.” 

Buatsi and Azeez announced their fight at a press conference this week and Buatsi was asked about the expectations surrounding him and his own career, and on being the proposed favourite against Azeez. 

“There’s always pressure but I’m going to be in that ring and do what I have to do,” Buatsi explained. “There’s always been pressure, it exists, it’s part of the game. So what. There’s always a point to prove. Whenever I step into boxing places, it’s only ever about the winner. As long as I’m winning, that’s what matters.”