Buatsi says former coach is now ‘Team Azeez’

Joshua Buasti knows one member of Dan Azeez’s team very well.

Buatsi, who is going through the final stage of training camp for his February 3 WBA light-heavyweight final eliminator against Dan Azeez, knows a world title shot is on the line. 

Mark Gillespie was Buatsi’s amateur coach and with him as a professional for some time. Now he is a part of Azeez’s team. Buatsi, who trains with Virgil Hunter in Hayward, California, told ProBox TV: “My amateur trainer, who was with me for probably my first 10-12 fights, he started to train Azeez as well. He has been training Azeez for maybe two or three years, something like that.”

Buatsi, 17-0 (13 KOs), knows that Gillespie knows him – to a degree. Despite there being no bad blood, it is clear that the all-British fight between Buatsi and Azeez has the fighting pride of London written all over it. 

“It is someone that of course I have separated away from, and more so when this fight got made I definitely separated away from,” added Buatsi. “I still said Merry Christmas to him, because he has been with me since I was 15 in the amateurs. That is where the link is, and as far as I am concerned he’s Team Azeez.”

Despite the holiday greeting, the undefeated 30-year-old Buatsi knows what is required of him against the 34-year-old Azeez. This is the former Olympic bronze medallist’s chance to impress the British fight fans.

“I didn’t leave home just to be on a holiday,” he said of training in California. “I understand what I do is bigger than me, I am not the only beneficiary of it.”