BOXING

AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

STAR BOXING PREVIEW Sat: Joshua Buatsi v Dan Azeez

Friends become enemies in London this weekend as undefeated light heavyweight contenders Joshua Buatsi (17-0 13KO) and Dan Azeez (20-0 13KO) take centre stage at Wembley Arena.

As friends and former sparring partners, these two men know each other well but respect has gone out of the window during the build-up.

Originally slated for October 2023, the fight was delayed by four months after Azeez suffered an injury but the delay has only added to the anticipation. When the fight was originally announced, it was billed as two friends doing business but over time, resentment has built between both fighters and their teams with Buatsi even suggesting Azeez ‘faked’ his injury.

Trash talking is not something we have seen from Joshua Buatsi before, he has always held a clean-cut since turning professional in 2016 Olympics but something has needed to change. He is now 17-0 and although the early signs were positive, he has lost all momentum in recent years and he now finds himself fighting to remain relevant in the 175lb division.

Five fights in four years highlights the lack of momentum in the career of Joshua Buatsi but issues outside of the ropes have played a big part. Changing promoters and struggling to settle with trainers have compounded the problem and the sport of boxing is fickle, the once promising amateur is now an underachieving professional.

However, all is not lost with the once decorated amateur. At 30 years old, the 2016 Olympic bronze medallist, still has time to realise his potential and become a world champion but it must start this weekend. The time for patience has gone and it’s time to deliver on the biggest stage.

While Joshua Buatsi has received the blue-chip treatment as a professional, Dan Azeez has had a completely different journey. He started boxing later in life and turned over with intentions of juggling a university degree and boxing on the small hall circuit but his talent was quickly apparent and he now finds himself as 20-0 professional with a host of domestic belts to his name.

Despite the achievements, Dan Azeez is a self-depreciating character and even in the build-up to this fight he has been honest about losing hundreds of spars against Buatsi in the past but spars don’t matter. Under the lights, Dan Azeez has delivered in every one of his twenty fights and if both careers were to finish today, it’s Azeez who has enjoyed more success.

Azeez is an immensely talented fighter, you don’t win English, British & European titles without talent but his biggest advantages lie in the intangibles. He is a fighter moulded by adversity, by doing things the hard way and when things get tough, he comes to life and we are yet to know if his opponent this weekend has the same mental fortitude.

The one niggling doubt around Dan Azeez is how much the injury sustained last year has impacted his preparation for this fight. It was a serious back injury and it was just four months ago and when you consider a standard fight camp to be 10-12 weeks, it doesn’t leave much room for recovery.

This is a huge moment for both fighters and it’s hard to separate them based on what they have achieved so far but if Azeez is anything less than 100%, you have to fancy Joshua Buatsi to get the job done. Despite the negativity around his career in recent times, there is a feeling that it will eventually click for Joshua Buatsi and this could be the perfect time for him against a man he knows so well.

Joshua Buatsi to win by KO/TKO is the bet here.

On the undercard, keep an eye out for rising star Adam Azim (10-0 7KO) who is looking to claim the European super-lightweight title against undefeated Enock Poulsen (14-0 5KO).

Under the guidance of trainer Shane McGuigan, Azim has quickly become a rising star in British boxing and many feel he can go on to become a multi-weight world champion. Step-ups like this are what make a great fighter and Azim has looked focused all week and has acknowledged this is the biggest moment of his career so far.

Poulsen is undefeated and confident but he has never fought a talent like Adam Azim. However, from his recent fights, he has a solid boxing IQ and he can ask questions of the rising star and he certainly won’t enter the ring with a negative mindset like most Azim’s opponents to this point.

It’s hard to pick against the home favourite but this is a fight that could go long and with that in mind, a price of (6/5) for at least eight completed rounds looks a solid bet.

JORDAN NEILD


RECOMMENDED BETS
BACK Joshua Buatsi to win by KO/TKO 2pts at 11/4 (⭐ ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Adam Azim and Enock Poulsen to have at least eight completed rounds 1pt at 5/6 (⭐ ? CLICK TO BET NOW)


PROFIT/LOSS (FEB 2024): +3.50 points


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