JOSHUA BUATSI won his fierce, all-London rivalry with Craig Richards after an exciting 12 round battle at the O2 Arena in Greenwich on Saturday.
Buatsi took a unanimous decision, winning 116-112 on one card and 115-113 for the two other judges.
Buatsi used his left lead expertly to control the opening rounds, slamming in solid shots as he outjabbed Richards from range.
His physical strength became apparent as he tore right hooks down. Buatsi forced the Crystal Palace man into the ropes and Craig had to absorb punishing hits.
Buatsi varied his attacks to the body as well, firm punches downstairs created openings for him.
But if Buatsi sensed he could break him down, Richards dug in and refused to give way. In the eighth round Richards made a breakthrough of his own. Craig’s right caught Buatsi round the side of the head and wobbled him momentarily. Richards charged after him, attacking viciously. But Buatsi held him when he needed to and saw out the danger.
The Croydon man steadied, recovered himself and continued to pick up rounds. He was always a threat, bursting forward with savage combinations when he let his potent right loose and swept strong left hooks after it.
Both men delivered a grandstand finish, standing to trade at the close of the final round. But it was Buatsi who was far enough ahead to take a clear unanimous decision victory.