Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | AFP and Agencies |
A light heavyweight prospect who chose Britain over Ghana to pursue his Olympic dreams clocked the first knock-out of the Rio Games boxing after pulverising his outclassed opponent on Sunday.
Joshua Buatsi, 23, who was born in the Ghanaian capital Accra, simply had too much quality for Kennedy Katende of Uganda, sending a powerful warning of intent to the rest of the weight class.
Buatsi capped an imperious performance when the referee stopped the fight in the third and final round to save the stumbling Katende from more punishment and Buatsi won by technical knock-out.
It left his opponent slumped in his corner on a stall after the one-sided bout, rubbing the back of his head, and he was later seen with an ice bag on the injury and a doctor in attendance.
The level-headed Buatsi is not the most prominent member of a Team GB boxing squad rippling with talent, but his first tilt at Olympic gold got off to the perfect start.
“I noticed he was hurt from a right hand but the referee didn’t step in so I just kept applying the pressure and when I landed another right hand I knew he was hurt,” said Buatsi.
“I didn’t want to hurt him like that. I am in there to win, not to hurt people, so I am glad the referee stopped it,” added Buatsi.
“I had the chance to represent Ghana at 2012 (Games in London) but I chose not to and to represent Britain.
“My trainers are British and they taught me my trade and they said, ‘Josh, hang on, a better opportunity will come.’
“Now I can stand here and testify that it was good for me to listen to them because this is where it has brought me.”
Katende: A big thank you to everyone for all the support I have got during and before the Olympics. Its been a tough road and we made it here, too bad the trip ends here, but we never give up.
Keep the ball rolling
Buatsi showed no nerves as he took the bout to his more experienced opponent, 31, and was in complete control from the first bell.
The Ugandan did open up a few times, but when he did Buatsi blocked him, and as Katende tired Buatsi went in for the kill.
Buatsi said he had been tempted by the Ghana offer because he was desperate to get to the Olympics.
“I wanted to get there so badly, but I needed these four years to develop. Four years ago I was not the fighter I am today.”
Reflecting on the life-changing move as a child from his birthplace Ghana to London aged just nine, he said: “My parents were living in Britain so I went there to join them. I feel like I have been living there my whole life and everything I have learnt has been from London.
“The trade and talent I’ve got I learned in England and this is where it has brought me so it has been a really good thing.”
Buatsi’s demolition job made it a perfect start of four wins in four for British boxing in Rio.
“It is good to keep the ball rolling,” said Buatsi.
The Ugandan also has his own intriguing story, having fought for Sweden at the last Olympics, before returning to his motherland.
After the fight, he posted a message to his fans on facebook.
“A big thank you to everyone for all the support I have got during and before the Olympics. Its been a tough road and we made it here, too bad the trip ends here, but we never give up. Now everything lies in Gods hands to see what happens when I came home. Thanks again.”
UGANDA’S SCHEDULE PAGE 2 (click here to read key facts about Team Uganda)