If things had gone to plan, Joshua Buatsi would have been walking out at Selhurst Park for a long awaited fight with Anthony Yarde on Saturday night. 

June 15th had been the mooted date for a showdown between the light heavyweight rivals but Yarde’s ongoing contractual dispute with his long time promoters, Queensberry, continues to delay matters.

Buatsi, 18-0 (13 KOs), was still in South London but instead of striding down a ramp to the ring, the British and Commonwealth champion quietly walked across the cold, sodden pitch to a ringside seat where he watched Chris Billam-Smith successfully defend his WBO cruiserweight title against Richard Riakporhe. 

On the undercard, Buatsi’s former opponent, Dan Azeez, labored to a draw with Hrvoje Sep and future 175lb star, Ben Whittaker, cruised to an uneventful decision victory over Ezra Arenyreka but Buatsi remains focused on getting Yarde into the ring. 

Last week, the British Boxing Board of Control added their weight to the saga by putting a British title fight between Buatsi and Yarde out to purse bids.

Everybody - Yarde included - says they want the fight to take place next but everything continues to hinge on the two-time world title challenger resolving his dispute with Queensberry. 

Buatsi has been plagued by inactivity throughout his career and with October’s undisputed light heavyweight title fight between Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol closing off all his avenues to a title shot for the foreseeable future, the 31 year-old can’t afford to wait around much longer before deciding what to do. Fortunately for him, he has an attractive back-up plan.

Following Yarde’s failure to confirm to them that he would be interested in a fight with Buatsi, the WBO replaced him with Willy Hutchinson and ordered an interim title fight between he and Buatsi following the Scot’s impressive victory over Craig Richards.

“Since the Dan Azeez fight I’ve been saying let’s get the Yarde fight cracking. Let’s make it happen. That’s still in the planning but the Hutchinson fight also got ordered. There’s two options but I think I pretty much know what the public would like to see,” Buatsi said on TalkSport.

Hutchinson, 18-1 (13 KOs), has come from nowhere to become a viable and attractive challenger. The unpredictable 25-year-old finally lived up to his potential by comprehensively beating former world title challenger, Richards. He arguably did it in a more impressive fashion than Buatsi who won a competitive decision over Richards in 2022. 

“It’s a result that upset me because ‘Spider’ is my guy. I wanted ‘Spider’ to win,” Buatsi said. “Big up to Hutchinson. It’s a fight that I thought ‘Spider’ would come out on top in but he came out on top. You’ve got to give it to him.”

Still, Buatsi - who is also the mandatory challenger for Bivol’s WBA belt - knows that a fight with Yarde carries that elusive X-Factor and he remains hopeful that an agreement can be reached.

“Let’s hope so. There’s been a lot of talking. I did my part and got Azeez out of the way and it’s a fight that I’ve been asking for. Let's hope it happens.”