Not many don’t return a call from Floyd Mayweather Jr — but Joshua Buatsi did.
It means Buatsi will make his professional debut Saturday not as part of Mayweather’s promotional stable of fighters but for British promoter Eddie Hearn at the O2 Arena in London.
Buatsi sparkled at the 2016 Olympics and two stoppage wins on the way to the semifinals caught the eye of Mayweather, boxing’s former pound-for-pound No 1.
London-based Buatsi revealed Mayweather told him he was “a future world champion” when he met the American in Rio. The 24-year-old was then linked to signing a professional contract with Mayweather’s promotional company.
“Nothing came of it,” Buatsi told ESPN. “They rang me two weeks after the Olympics and I said I needed to go back to university and finish my degree, and that’s where it got left. They never got back to me and I wasn’t going to chase it.
“To be fair, I always planned to stay in England. I spoke to Floyd Mayweather’s team a few times but nothing further. Floyd said some really nice things and that was great. The Money man calling me a future world champion and coming to watch me was brilliant and I never thought that would happen to me.”
Buatsi, who has lived in Croydon since his family moved from Ghana to England when he was aged nine, delayed the start of paid career so he could finish a Sports Science and Management degree at St Mary’s University.
As well as being promoted by Hearn’s Matchroom Sport, Buatsi is being managed by world heavyweight champion and 2012 Olympic gold medallist Anthony Joshua and his company.
“I missed the top prize at the Olympics and turning professional is all about becoming world champion,” Buatsi said. “I couldn’t say how long it is going to take me to achieve it, but that’s the goal. For Anthony Joshua, it came at the right time and he did it under four years.
“I chose AJ and his team to manage me because he’s come from the same Olympic background and he has done really well since. They will know how to move around in the pro ranks commercially and have learned how to manage an Olympic medallist.”
Despite the bold decision to put education before the start of his boxing career, Buatsi insists punching is his top priority.
“I was able to do uni and box, but I was always going to box and I’ve never thought about a nine-to-five job, boxing has to work for me,” Buatsi added. “But it shows that if an important decision has to be made about my boxing and I feel strong about it, I will stick to it.”
Buatsi’s first professional opponent has yet to be confirmed.