Coming off the back of the all British clash between Chris Eubank Jr and Liam Smith this past weekend, Sky Sports and Boxxer turn their attention to yet another civil-collision when Joshua Buatsi faces off with Dan Azeez.
The two Londoners headline at the O2 Arena in London on October 21. The pair have trod very different paths to this point in their career's, culminating in them putting their undefeated records on the line in six weeks time.
Buatsi (17-0, 13 KOs) turned professional in 2017 after a glittering amateur career that saw him medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and previously at the 2015 European Championships. The now 30 year old joined Matchroom along with a host of Team GB fighters billed as a future ‘blue-chip’ star. It hasn’t quite gone to plan for the Croydon man, very publicly leaving Eddie Hearn for Ben Shalom’s Boxxer earlier this year.
Azeez (20-0, 13 KOs) also turned pro in 2017 after a decent amateur career that saw him win various regional titles, but a far cry from his rivals resume. The 34 year old built his name on London’s small-hall scene, cleaning up regional and British titles against the likes of Hosea Burton and Rocky Fielding along the way.
Azeez has enlisted the help of American trainer Buddy McGirt in recent times, the pair winning the European title in Paris this past March.
“Listen, it is a tough fight.” McGirt said in an exclusive interview for ProBox TV. “There are no ifs or buts about it. Dan has improved a lot since I’ve been working with him. But right now, we need to focus on the task in front of us. Which is Buatsi.
“I don’t see many holes in Buatsi, but I did see a lot of things when they sparred that I got to take advantage of. They sparred a few months ago just before we fought in France. I got to honestly say that the first two times that they sparred Buatsi kicked Dan’s ass, I’m not gonna lie. But the third and fourth time, the roles were reversed. But those first two times they sparred, I was like ‘who is this motherfucker?’ He can really fight. The next time they sparred, I told Dan ‘go to bed early tonight, eat breakfast like you are fighting goddammit because we can’t keep getting our ass kicked like this before a big fight.’ Then Dan started holding his own and the tide started to changing for him.”
McGirt, who also trains fellow UK light heavyweight Callum Smith, responded to whether this is the right fight for his charge next.
“I don’t get involved in arranging who he is fighting and things like that. if they say that is what we going to do, then we do it.” McGirt explained. “If you get a shot to fight in a world title eliminator, how do you tell a guy no. You gotta take these fights. He was never going to not take it anyway.”