Queensberry moved quickly to capitalise on Willy Hutchinson’s impressive victory over Craig Richards on Saturday night.

Within 24 hours, Andy Ayling e-mailed the WBO to request that Hutchinson, who sits at number six in the WBO rankings, be considered to fight number one-ranked Joshua Buatsi for their Interim light heavyweight title. Ayling cited that Hutchinson would be “immediately available, ready, willing, and able” to take on Buatsi.

The WBO approved the request. Queensberry and BOXXER – who represent Buatsi – now have a 10-day negotiation period in which to reach an agreement. If terms can’t be agreed, there will be a purse bid.

On May 8, the WBO issued a ruling ordering that Buatsi and Anthony Yarde fight for the Interim title. Contractual disputes between Yarde and Queensberry meant that there was no movement and on May 29, the WBO granted Yarde 72 hours to personally declare that he was willing to commit to a fight with Buatsi.

The deadline passed without communication from Yarde and, yesterday, the WBO released a ruling on the situation, stating the following:

“On May 29, 2024, this Committee issued a purse bid order for the Buatsi/Yarde Interim Light Heavyweight Championship Contest. In our ruling, the Committee outlined specific provisions, most notably granting Anthony Yarde 72 hours upon issuance of the order to personally manifest in writing to the WBO as to whether he would participate in the interim championship. The foregoing condition stated that failure to comply thereto would result in this Committee determining that Anthony Yarde is uninterested, and therefore, unavailable to fight. Consequently, the WBO World Championship Committee would recommend to the Ratings Committee his exclusion from the Light Heavyweight Ratings in accordance with our rules and regulations.

Having the time granted to Anthony Yarde elapsed without formal communication, this Committee HEREBY rules that he’s uninterested and unavailable to proceed with the fight against Joshua Buatsi as ordered.”

The WBO did receive one piece of communication on Yarde’s behalf. On June 1st, BOXXER’s Ben Shalom contacted them to request an extension to Yarde’s deadline to allow him to negotiate directly with the Londoner. Shalom stated that he had received communication from Yarde’s team stating that the fighter’s promotional contract with Queensberry had expired. A claim which has been denied by Queensberry’s Frank Warren who has insisted that the 32-year-old remains under contract. 

Buatsi, 18-0 (13 KOs), was last in action on February 3 when he beat Dan Azeez in an eliminator for the WBA title. Buatsi is the WBA’s mandatory challenger and his team will now need to decide whether to sit and wait for the outcome of the rescheduled undisputed light heavyweight title fight between WBC, IBF and WBO champion, Artur Beterbiev and WBA champion, Dmitry Bivol, on October 12 or take on Hutchinson in the meantime. 

While a long talked about fight with Yarde would have been a massive, lucrative event, a fight with a revitalised Hutchinson would be a risk. However, the 31-year-old Buatsi has been inactive, boxing only three times in three years. He may decide that a fight with Hutchinson is the ideal way to stay sharp before a potential world title fight. 

Hutchinson, 18-1 (13 KOs), is now riding a five-fight win streak since suffering a shock stoppage defeat to Lennox Clarke at super middleweight three years ago and will be desperate to build on the momentum he generated by beating Richards.

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