The two undefeated fighters have it all on the line, knowing that a victory places them in a mandatory position to take on Dmitry Bivol for his WBA Light Heavyweight Title. The British domestic clash will see Buatsi enter the ring for the first time since May 2023, when he secured a decision victory over Pawel Stepien to take his record to 17-0, with 13 wins by knockout. His last stoppage was against Ricards Bolotniks.
His opponent, Azeez, secured his biggest win against former super middleweight title contender Rocky Fielding to stop him within eight rounds. Since the Fielding win, Azeez chose to box overseas. He took his record to 20-0, with victories over Thomas Faure in France and Khalid Graidia in Italy. The two friends and one-time sparring partners battle it out as FIGHT SPORTS spoke exclusively to Buatsi.
On it being personal: “I’m never personal with the people that I fight. Most of these guys that we fight I don’t know them. Dan happens to be someone that I do know, someone that I also know outside the ring, but it terms of it being personal, No. Dan’s a great guy. He is a fantastic guy.
On respecting Azeez’s fighting skills: “100 percent. I respect most of the guys that I fought, but I respect Dan more because I know him outside of boxing. And I’ve seen his journey as well.
On being the A-side: “I don’t even think I’m the A-side. I’ve always made this point that everything has been done in his favor. The dates were rescheduled so many times in his favor, so I don’t think anything has been planned in my favor to make me the A-side. It is Buatsi vs Azeez and that’s how it’s going to be.
On being the favorite: “I still don’t even think I’m the favorite because there are so many things people are saying that I don’t tune into. One guy came up to me the other day and said he thinks Azeez is the [favorite] because he’s been very active. That’s true and that’s another thing that has been thrown in his favor.
Why he will win: “I’ve worked hard for it. Rather than talking, I think it’s better to demonstrate it…So it’s better to show it than to be giving out all these reasons.
On the pressure: “Again, it comes down to what you’re tuning into. If you’re keeping up to date with everything, you’re gonna feel the pressure, there’s pressure, there’s always pressure, right? So this is currently the fight that I’m dealing with, the most important fight. I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself to win, a lot of pressure.
On it being the biggest fight: 100% Yeah [it is], for what’s at stake, Absolutely. My last fight was my biggest, the previous fight was my biggest…Right now this is the most important one.
On potentially facing Bivol: “It’s a good price [to pay], you know, and all the things that [are] within the price that we’re paying for is to fight for that title. That’s kind of how this fight came about. Originally, Dan was proposed to me a few times and I said, Nope, I don’t want to fight Dan.
“He’s a good friend of mine. I know Dan, I could fight someone else…I said the only reason why I would fight Dan is if something big was at stake. You don’t necessarily want to fight someone that you’re friends with, but we’re in this to be world champions.
On remaining undefeated: “It’s about the belt.
On getting his hand raised: “It would mean everything, it would mean everything for me to win. And that’s all I’m thinking about.”
Where To Watch Info
Watch Buatsi vs. Azeez on FIGHT SPORTS Network in Japan, Spain, Portugal, France, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Middle East/North Africa, Angola, Mozambique, and Cape Verde.
Watch Buatsi vs. Azeez on FIGHT SPORTS MAX in select territories: https://bit.ly/47YAcKG