Joshua Buatsi ready to meet Artur Beterbiev or Dmitry Bivol at top of ‘unpredictable’ 175lb division

Joshua Buatsi is determined to reach the summit of the light-heavyweight division.

The 30-year-old Briton is backing his own ability to make it at the highest level, although he cannot be certain who the belt-holders will be when the time comes for his own title shot.

Dmitry Bivol is the 175lb champion with the WBA, the sanctioning body with whom Buatsi is the No 1-ranked contender.

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Artur Beterbiev, one of the most fearsome punchers in the sport, is the unified WBC, WBO and IBF titlist.

Buatsi knows if he can beat Poland’s Pawel Stepien, he will be on the cusp of challenging for a major championship.

But defeated in Birmingham on May 6, live on Sky Sportswould destroy those ambitions.

“Are Bivol and Beterbiev going to unify? Is Bivol going to vacate the belt and move down to fight Canelo [Alvarez]? Is Beterbiev going to say one more [fight] and I’m retiring? It’s so hard to say. It’s so unpredictable,” Buatsi told Sky Sports.

“It’s important to maneuver myself correctly so that when opportunity comes, I’m next in line.

“That’s the position that I’m in right now.”

He would welcome a showdown with one of the champions.

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“I haven’t turned down an opponent to say, ‘Oh I don’t want to fight this guy’. My coach said you could fight for the title or fight Bivol in a couple of fights. But he didn’t say that means we wouldn’t say yes to it,” Buatsi added.

“Saying that in a couple of fights’ time would leave me more prepared doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t have been prepared had the opportunity been given.”

“They’re killers,” he said of Beterbiev and Bivol, “but I believe I’m one too. It’s that simple.”

Throughout his professional career there has been faith that Buatsi would eventually fight in world championship class.

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“That expectation has been there from the Olympic Games. It’s probably because I was knocking out everyone,” said Buatsi, who won a light-heavyweight bronze medal in Rio in 2016.

But he does not feel he is lagging behind.

“Let’s look at the light-heavyweight category that went to those Games. How many are world champions now? How many of them have a higher ranking than myself? The answer is none,” he said.

“Having good rankings as well now, it’s important that we maneuver correctly so that I keep those rankings so that I became a mandatory so that I can fight for the title.

“I’m ready for it, let’s fight for it.”