After some false alarms, Joshua Buatsi and Dan Azeez have made their light-heavyweight bout official for October 21 at London’s O2 Arena.
The two unbeaten Londoners will face off on the BOXXER card, with the loser’s hopes of a world title anytime soon knocked down a peg or two.
Buatsi, 30, was last out against Pawel Stepien in a relatively laboured points win – something he won’t allow himself to do against the powerful and relentless Azeez.
He told Sky Sports that it would be ‘all business’ come fight night.
“We’ve been friends for years but there’s too much on the line here for either of us to say no to this fight. We can be friends again afterwards but on October 21 it’s all business. I’m preparing to beat the best version of Dan Azeez and I’m doing everything I need to do to achieve that, whether that’s by decision or knockout.”
Azeez has picked up the English, British – previously held by Buatsi – and European 175lbs straps in his campaign so far, and is looking to push on to world level.
He’s fought twice this year already, a stoppage of Thomas Faure followed by an eight-round points win over Khalid Graidia in Italy. He says beating Buatsi is ‘another step closer to the top.’
“I’ve earned my way to get to this stage of my career and there’s still more to earn and prove. This fight is another step closer to the top and it means a lot to me, so I’m preparing like I always do for everything and anything in order to be victorious come October 21.”
Promoter Ben Shalom said the fight sets up the winner for a world title shot.
“Joshua Buatsi and Dan Azeez are standouts in a very deep division and they are two of the most talented and hungry fighters I’ve ever seen. This is a huge fight for British boxing and it has ‘Fight of the Year’ potential.
Buatsi’s right to compete at this level has never been questioned but Azeez has had to fight every step of the way here and you have to give credit to Buatsi for taking a risk like this.
It’s been an incredible journey and with both of them now potentially just one win away from challenging for the world title in a huge-money fight, I think we’re going to see something special in the O2 on October 21. These are the fights British boxing fans want to see.”
The action will be broadcast live on Sky Sports.