Joshua Buatsi dreaming of world title glory under trainer Virgil Hunter

"I knew then Virgil was a good trainer. I said at the time I’d love to be trained by Virgil, but I didn’t ever think in a million years I’d be in the States training with him. "

Joshua Buatsi is excited to showcase his improvements under legendary trainer Virgil Hunter.

The Croydon fighter returns this weekend for the first time since defeating brave Croat Marko Calic in October, and will take on Daniel Blenda Dos Santos.

Buatsi, who puts his unblemished 13-0 record on the line, will headline Matchroom's Manchester card after Terri Harper pulled out of her unification bout against Hyun Mi Choi because of a hand injury.

The light heavyweight, who moved across the other side of the Atlantic to work with Hunter in San Francisco, is hoping to replicate a similar success story to Andre Ward under Hunter.

"In my last fight I found out that if I have to dig deep because it's not going my way, I'm capable of doing it," Buatsi said.

"That's in the bank now. Before that fight I thought it was in the bank, I was convinced it was in the bank, but I'd never been tested. Now that I have been tested and I had to show a bit of guts, I know it's there.

"I met Virgil Hunter at the first Joshua vs. Ruiz fight in New York in 2019. I went over to him to introduce myself and he told me he knew who I was.

"I told him I was going to come and train with him one day, and he said the door to his gym was open whenever I was ready.

"After my last fight in October I said, 'I'm out of here'. I've come out here to learn more and add things to my game.

"It's totally different living out here. It's great, it's nice and the views are amazing, I've never seen anything like it, but I'm here just for boxing.

"The main goal is purely to come out here to gain experience and learn as much as I can. It's going really well so far. I wasn't really watching a lot of professional boxing in the amateurs.

"I started to watch it when I was about 17 or 18. I came across Andre Ward and started watching his fights, listening out for what he was being told in the corner and stuff like that.

"I knew then Virgil was a good trainer. I said at the time I'd love to be trained by Virgil, but I didn't ever think in a million years I'd be in the States training with him.

Joshua Buatsi celebrates winning the WBA International light heavyweight championship bout at the O2 Arena, London
Joshua Buatsi celebrates winning the WBA International light heavyweight championship bout at the O2 Arena, London

"Sometimes in the corner, it's not really even boxing advice that he's giving me, it's just something totally different," Buatsi continued.

"It's linked to boxing, so I'll do it and I'll be like, 'cool, that worked'. It's a whole different spin and approach from him but I'm really enjoying it.

"As always, I look to go in there, and I look to handle business. I don't really go too much into reading about opponents and their previous fights, because how they boxed someone else is not how they're going to box me.

"I'll be there listening to the instructions that Virgil is going to give me. I'm very excited. I'm looking forward to showing people what I've been learning out here."

Buatsi's act of kindness

Buatsi - managed by Anthony Joshua's 258 Management - is equally as impressive outside of the ring.

The 2016 Olympic-medalist is always looking to give back, especially when it comes to helping the vulnerable.

In 2017, according to Eddie Hearn, Buatsi attended a Katie Taylor event and was asked if he had any money by a woman believed to be homeless.

'I just need food,' she said to Buatsi.

The 28-year-old left the event and took her to a restaurant in Bethnal Green to buy her a meal.

Buatsi has continued to help during the pandemic alongside Team GB star Cheavon Clarke.

"We managed to do something Christmas just gone," he said. "Myself and Cheavon Clarke - the 91 kg boxer for Great Britain.

"Myself, him and two of his other mates partnered up, put some bits together and gave it out to the homeless.

"Credit to them because I was away but prior to me going away we had sorted everything so credit to them, they ran out there and did what they had to do.

"Back in Ghana I've got some people that I use some bits and pieces with. Just to give back to people, the community and people that are less fortunate.

"There's always something happening, something that I'm doing outside of the ring.

"Boxing, I guess that's the only time you see me, but apart from that there's a lot of things that I'm doing," Buatsi added.