Buatsi inspired ‘Smokin’ Joe’s fighting spirit for Azeez bout

Sometimes opposites attract, and the highly-technical and cerebral Joshua Buatsi finds spiritual inspiration from a legendary brute in former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier.

Buatsi returns to the ring on Saturday, February 3, against Dan Azeez in London.

The bout has bragging rights for the capital, but a major inspiration for Buatsi’s camp, and all of his camps is an unlikely one. ‘Smokin' Joe’, the Philly legend, who beat Muhammad Ali, has been impactful to him. Most might assume a fighter who boxes well behind a jab and is patient would not be influenced so heavily by the relentless Frazier. 

“I don’t know how technical I really am,” Buatsi said. “I don’t feel that technical, but I like Frazier, man. When I was in Ghana, the tale I had heard was Muhammad Ali had never been beaten before. When I got to England, when I started boxing, I heard the first guy to beat [Ali] was Joe Frazier. This is my guy then. So since then I have been attracted to what he has done, and how he fights.”

So what clicks for Buatsi? Why is Frazier his guy? Simple. It’s the grind and determination he had to fight the wars he had. In the desolate gym in Hayward, California, where Buatsi has taken up residence, the grueling thoughts of ‘what would Joe Frazier do,’ seems to surface during the day-to-day grind.

“His worth ethic,” Buatsi told ProBox TV about how Frazier has served as inspiration. “The clips I have seen, he is always grinding. His style of fighting is something I always found attractive.”

Buatsi is the first to admit that even though he is a fan of Frazier’s style, he understands it is not one that is built to last. Buatsi is looking to have longevity and learn from the past as there is a difference between being inspired by someone and fighting like them. 

“I will say this, as I have been boxing longer, I have realized that style of boxing is [more of] a short-term thing,” Buasti continued. “I am not saying there is no skill to what Frazier does, because there is a tremendous amount of skill to what he does, but it is a brutal way of fighting. You see how you have to prepare to fight like [Joe Frazier].”

In many ways, Azeez mirrors Frazier. Maybe not in terms of skill and achievement, but in frame and style. For Buatsi, his biggest fight might almost be akin to fighting one of his inspirations.