Talented amateur Joshua Buatsi has admitted he’s still adjusting to his new-found fame since claiming an Olympic bronze medal in Rio this summer.
The 23 year-old, who campaigned at the light-heavyweight limit (81kg) in Brazil, put in some eye-catching knockout performances throughout the tournament until succumbing at the semi-final stage to claim a place on the podium.
Buatsi was one of three Great British boxing medal winners at the Games, alongside a second gold in four years for Nicola Adams and a silver for the surprise package at heavyweight, Joe Joyce, which came on the very last day.
Speaking as the dust settled on the furore surrounding the team’s triumphant return home, Buatsi was in reflective mood as he prepared to come back down to earth with a new university term just around the corner.
“I was just glad to be able to box the best that I have boxed on the world stage,” Buatsi exclusively told World Boxing News.
“I could have won all my bouts on points and maybe people wouldn’t have made a fuss about it, but because I won them by knocking people out, they were captivated by it. I couldn’t have asked for anything more than that.”
Asked whether he was expecting to pull off as many stoppages as he did pre-tournament, Buatsi said: “Well I fought in WSB back in March and knocked out the guy in the fourth round. I went to a tournament in Hungary and boxed four people, with three of them being standing counts.
“Within the team, my coaches know I can punch and I know myself that I have good power, and as I said within the Great Britain team we all know so it came as no surprise to us.”
In his semi-final, Buatsi lost narrowly to Kazakhstan’s eventual silver medallist Adilbek Niyazymbetov on all three scorecards but was just happy to take away something from his first Olympic experience despite failing to gain the KO he wanted.
“I just felt that he (Adilbek Niyazymbetov) was allowed to hold a bit more than he should have been,” stated Buatsi. “But credit to him as he did what he had to do to get through a fight like that. If he didn’t hold, then I’d have definitely knocked him out. Without a doubt, I’d have got to him eventually.
“He did enough to nick the fight and the judges scored it however they scored it to award it to him.
“Just to qualify for the Olympics was already an achievement but when I got to Rio there was already 26 or 27 in my weight category, so to be one of only four to get a medal and be standing there with a bronze, I’m extremely proud.
“To be one of only a few people to get there, It’s one of the best feelings in the world and I’m grateful. It’s the best thing ever,” he added.
The obvious question to ask was whether the professional ranks now loomed for Buatsi, although the Londoner admitted all he was thinking about at the moment was getting back to his studies.
“I’m going to uni in like three weeks. I’ve had like a year off so I’m like proper, not worried – but a bit anxious, as you have to do lots of research and I haven’t done any of that yet for over a year, so hopefully I can get back into it.
“But in terms of what’s next for me (boxing-wise), I’m just waiting to go back to training and when I see my coaches and team I’ll weigh up my options.
“There’s always contact (from promoters) and always talk (from the press) but right now I’ve not made a decision as to what I’m going to do. Everything has remained the same, although I’m just doing lots of media and embracing everything what’s happened to me.
“Going from nothing to ‘this is the guy from the Olympics’ is crazy but it’s so good to get back to London. To be away for over a month and come back to see how happy people are that I did well in Brazil, you know it’s good, man.
“I just want to thank everyone in the nation for their support and I’m grateful to God for giving me this opportunity to go out there and get a medal.”