English light heavyweight contender Joshua Buatsi was coming off of a 12-month layoff when he headlined Saturday night in the Boxser Promotions/ Sky Sports main event. And, unfortunately with his lack of activity or significant punching, it was like he was still in hibernation while getting a 10 round unanimous decision over his Polish opponent.
Bauatsi, 17-0, 13 KOs, won by scores of 100-90, 99-92, 97-94 over Pawel Stepian, who a previously undefeated (18-0-1) but largely unknown 175 pounder from Eastern Europe.
A winning return for @boxingbuatsi 🙌
He gets a unanimous decision victory over Pawel Stepien 👊
— BOXXER (@boxxer) May 6, 2023
The main event took place in Birmingham, England and while the crowd wasn’t whistling or jeering the 30 year old Buatsi’s performance, they met it largely with no response, much less cheering. That’s, because the man that came in as the WBA’s top contender did a little or nothing to excite them throughout the fight.
Only an occasional jab to the head of the body and infrequent right hands came from the Ghana born- English favorite, Buatsi. Stepien, who was fighting for the first time ever outside his home country, was elusive with head movement and scored every so often, with some with left hooks to the body and the head. But, round after round, it was a dull unenthusiastic performance from both participants.
Buatsi was coming off a win over countryman Craig Richards by decision last May. He was far better that night with activity, hard rights and combos and looked like a legit, rising contender.
However, after watching on Saturday it’s easy for most serious boxing fans and observers to dismiss Buatsi, as a legitimate contender for either unified champion Artur Beterbiev or WBA title holder Dmiitry Bivol,. Interestingly last fall Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn was trying to get Buatisi a title shot with the unbeaten Russian star Bivol, but the WBA refused to sanction it.
Bivol instead fought and easily won an impressive decision over Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez, where he dominated every round. Now, 6 to 7 months later it looks merciful with how bad and lacking in any offense Buatsi looked in his main event Saturday night.
When Buatsi didn’t get the title fight, he elected to change promoters to Ben Shalom and Boxxer , who won’t say so publicly, but cannot be pleased with how disappointing his effort was Saturday despite getting his hand raised.
At least the unbeaten contender took responsibility after the bout, telling Sky Sports post fight,
“I got the win. I haven’t boxed in almost a year. It was nice to get the rounds in, but I don’t know what to say. There was ring rust and all of that stuff….credit to him, good fighter, he did well,” Bautsi said.
When asked to give an assessment on a scale of ten on his showing, Buatsi hesitated and said, “Maybe like a “five.” It was average,” Buatsi conceded.
Round after round Buatsi simply didn’t put punches together to make his performance more convincing or exciting. So, while there isn’t really a dubious “Most Boring Fight of the Year” award, this one Saturday night would be under consideration, if there was.
The headline is definitely “Buatsi wins,” but we should also probably always add- “let’s not ever speak of what went on in Birmingham Saturday night May 6th, 2023, passed off as a main event, again.”