CRAIG RICHARDS is laying out his plans for what he wants next. The Crystal Palace light-heavyweight has already won the British title in style and acquitted himself well against Dmitry Bivol, the holder of the WBA belt. “Spider” is currently in negotiations to set his next fight but wants it to advance his career. If it can’t be one of the belt-holders, Richards is looking for an eliminator or a fight that will propel him back to world level.

He’ll be out in late April or early May. Germany’s Dominic Boesel and south London rival Joshua Buatsi are possible opponents for this next fight. “I’ve just got to see which ever of the highest level opposition I can face is available. Because I just want big fights. The options there are good, they’re all big fights, whether it’s Dominic Boesel, the European [title]. There’s talk of a domestic clash with Josh. There’s a few good options at the moment,” Richards told Boxing News. “With Josh himself, there’s a lot of respect there, I’ve known Josh for a while… I don’t hate him and doesn’t hate me, or I don’t think he hates me! I don’t think it’s a situation like that. We’re both at that point where we’re both knocking on the door for a world title, we know the world titles are tied up. We’ve got to look at our options.

“Maybe it’ll get sorted but that’s the sort of thing you’re looking at at this stage of your career, either big money or a reward at the end.”

Richards has shown a willingness to box anybody, even at short notice. When Callum Johnson was ruled out of his bout with WBO belt-holder Joe Smith, Richards publicly declared his willingness to fly over and fight the American with a few days to go.

“You saw I put the Tweets out, I told my manager to reach out to them and we weren’t really getting anything back,” Craig said. “That was a bit disappointing. But that’s what I mean, wherever the opportunity makes sense I’m always willing to get in there and get stuck in.”

He didn’t think much of Smith’s choice for a replacement, Steve Geffrard. “No one knew who he was. He’s never boxed at the level, he’s never boxed past eight rounds, so what’s the point. I’m a seasoned professional, I’ve been at that level,” Richards said. “[Against Bivol] there was no part of the fight where I thought let’s just push through this, this is getting tough. I was able to think with a clear head constantly and try to set traps for him and box and control what he’s doing. That’s why he did say at the end I’ve got a very good IQ, it was like I knew what he was going to do before he did it.

“I come up one round short. I could have pressed on it a bit more and I believe I could have delivered the win. I was scoring the rounds a little bit wrong and I got it slightly off but I had loads left in the tank.”

Richards points out that his bout with Bivol was closer on the scorecards than Joe Smith’s. “I put in a better performance than he did,” Craig said. “It shows that I belong at that level.”

He’s adamant there is more to come from him. That’s the appeal of fighting Boesel – the German is ranked number one with the WBA and beating him could lead Richards back to Bivol. “So fights like that make sense because you’re moving forward in your career,” he said. “I’ve got no problem fighting anyone. It’s just got to make a little bit of sense.”

Craig Richards
Richards scored a spectacular knockout against Pitters. Photo: Hennessy Sports

“I wouldn’t move forward from the British [title] to go back to the British,” he added. “These are the sort of names that are classed as world ranked, world level fighters.”

Richards notes that he has had his share of domestic clashes, hammering Jake Ball and then Shakan Pitters, winning the British title against the latter. “I was the challenger in [Pitters’] hometown on his channel and got the knockout, took the belt and ran off! Nothing was in my favour at all. I’ve been up against it multiple times and I’ve showed people I’m not scared of fighting anyone. I’ll fight everyone and when my back’s up against the wall I will perform,” Craig said. “When I boxed Jake, I think he was top five in Britain at the time, when I boxed Shakan he was top five in Britain at the time.

“I showed my adaptability, I’ve been in them tough fights and got the job done.”

“Good knockouts and it still didn’t really put me on the map,” he added. “I never had all the accolades and the big promotion coming through but I’ve just literally been showing it through my talent.”