Joshua Buatsi expects lengthy coronavirus impact and offers Tokyo 2020 advice

Joshua Buatsi
Buatsi expects fans to be wary when major events resume

Boxing will take time to return to normal after the coronavirus pandemic as fans could be "paranoid" about attending events, says Joshua Buatsi.

The sport is suspended in the UK until the end of May with Buatsi missing out on a fight of his own on 28 March.

His promoter Eddie Hearn is "confident" events will take place in July and "hopeful" they may do so in June.

"I don't think it will go back to how it was straight away," Buatsi, 27, told the 5 Live Boxing Podcast.

"I've thought about it and thought, do you wake up one day and they say 'the virus no longer exists' and everyone goes back to normal?

"You can't say 'the virus is gone, there's a show at the O2 and everyone turn up'. People will still be paranoid and taking precautions like they should be, so I think it will take a lot longer than we think for everything to get back to normal and for people to feel confident in large numbers."

Buatsi has scrapped pad workouts with a trainer in order to adhere to social distancing rules and is instead maintaining his fitness with "longer runs", circuit training at home and by using an indoor bike borrowed from a friend.

He has contacted fellow British light-heavyweight Anthony Yarde to offer condolences after his father died with the virus last week and told 5 Live's Mike Costello and Steve Bunce that the impact of the global pandemic has proved "a lot more serious than I first anticipated".

Buatsi won bronze for Great Britain at the Rio 2016 Olympics before beginning his unbeaten 12-bout professional career.

He has now urged GB Boxing's current Olympic hopefuls to resist the temptation to turn professional after the Tokyo 2020 Games were forced to move to July 2021.

Asked if he would have stayed amateur had the 2016 Olympics been rescheduled, he replied: "100% I still would have gone.

"I think overall when you look at it there won't be any events happening any time soon. It would be different if professional boxing was doing shows now as you'd say you could get experience as a professional. But everything is on hold. If you turned professional now it doesn't mean you will fight in the next month or two.

"If I were in the situation I would go to the Olympic Games. Age is important but I am sure the guys and girls will weigh up their options. There's no experience like the Olympic Games, it's the biggest event in the world. You get the chance to win a medal - it's life-changing."

Analysis - Turn pro? Or target Tokyo 2020?

BBC Radio 5 live boxing analyst Steve Bunce:

Had Anthony Joshua gone over to professional boxing before London 2012 - had it been cancelled - would his trajectory, career and pocket be the same?

Going into the Olympics he wasn't one of the big seeded boxers. So if you go back to April before London 2012 and the Olympics had gone back a year, to be honest, had he gone professional, who knows what would have happened with professional boxing people talking to him and trying to influence him. The Olympics would have looked further away.

BBC Sport boxing correspondent Mike Costello:

Keyshawn Davis, the American I have been really keen on for a couple of years, did an interview with the BBC World Service this week saying he is 70-30 on thinking he will turn professional before the Olympics. So that is a question. If he did turn pro, would he have won gold in 2021?

Someone like Britain's Caroline Dubois, who just turned 19, I think her chances have enhanced for the Games in 2021 as she will have time now to grow into the competition.

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