If you are a fan of deep boxing division then you probably are not intently following the light heavyweight division. Though two of the best ten fighters in the world reside in the division Dmitry Bivol, and Artur Beterbiev, the division has a massive drop-off from the elite to the contender to the prospects, in fact, one could even say that any prospect of merit is moved up to the realm of a contender status quicker than normal, due to the lack of depth in the division. Yet, here stands Dan Azeez.
This Saturday, Azeez, who has been brought along on Sky Sports’ Boxxer program quite well to establish himself as one of the best emerging European light heavyweights, if he isn’t the best, will face Thomas Faure for the EBU European light heavyweight title, in Paris, France. Azeez in his last fight, on December 17th, stopped former world champion Rocky Fielding in eight rounds as the undefeated 33-year-old is approaching his 19th pro fight, and hopes that in the near future, he gets his chance at greatness to become immortal in the sport of boxing.
Azeez appears to want to be in a modern classic, the romanticism of adversity in boxing from the ‘Rocky’ movie series to many of the fights that made us love the sport, is what he wants to be a part of. Sometimes you hear this candor, but given the severity of brain trauma, and what we know concussive punches can do to the brain - we rarely hear elite fighters say this unless speaking to the fan's heart and souls. Somehow, when I read the words Azeez spoke, I don’t think it is just that - it seems Azeez wants to find out who he truly is, and how he responds to adversity on the most vulnerable sporting stage of all, the chamber of truth, the boxing ring.
"You've got to think it and become it or whatever, no. I like to think of the hard road, 'It's not going to be easy, Dan’,” explained in greater detail to Sky Sports. "I always visualize, maybe he's outboxing me and I've got to switch it up, change it up. Maybe I'm losing and in the last second, I knock him out. That's what I visualize.”
It sounds like Azeez wants to have to adjust in a fight. Azeez yearns for the moment people doubt the outcome, and not just is his talent on trial, but his heart and soul is as well. The good thing is, one day Azeez will find what he is looking for, as the sport of boxing only gets harder the more you win, as the opponents get better, and often younger. If Azeez keeps winning, he will inevitably find the adversity he craves.
"You need to prepare yourself for the worst. And if it isn't as bad, it's win, win,” said Azeez in concluding his thoughts to Sky Sports. ”Boxing, you never know. You might have to show a bit of guts to get to the glory. Not I'm just going to box perfect, no. Sometimes I want to feel that adversity and have to do something extra."