Dan Azeez and Joshua Buatsi have faced off ahead of their light-heavyweight collision this Saturday at the OVO Arena Wembley, live on Sky Sports.
Azeez has risen through British boxing’s small-hall circuit to win national and continental championships.
But now he will take on an old friend and former sparring partner in Buatsi to win the right to challenge for a world title.
“Just standing here outside the OVO Arena is just bringing memories of when I won the British title. We are literally days away and I can’t wait,” Azeez told Sky Sports News.
“These are the kinds of nights I dreamt about. I didn’t turn pro thinking I want to make loads of money. I wanted to write a legacy. I want to achieve something. I wanted to prove to myself.”
Croydon’s Buatsi is a former British champion himself. Azeez may be an unbeaten professional like Buatsi, but this fight is still a step up for the Lewisham man.
Buatsi is an Olympic bronze medallist and the No 1-ranked contender in the WBA’s light-heavyweight rankings. Their contest will be an eliminator for that world title.
Azeez wants to triumph against the odds. “I’ve just got to be myself, but I just know there’s just a drive in me and it shows up on fight night,” he said.
“I think that’s what’s got me to where I am. That just needs to keep shining and prevailing on fight night and that’s what’s going to keep me going.”
He continued: “Watching me in the small halls, you wouldn’t have envisioned me at the top tier of the ladder.
“Both me and Josh, we’re both ranked top in every single governing body. Tell me this five or six years ago, I would never think it. But I’m here now.”
The two might have a shared past as sparring partners, but that has all now been set aside. In fact their rivalry has only intensified after the fight had to be postponed from its original date last October, when Azeez had to pull out with an injury to his back.
“It doesn’t matter whether I know him or not,” Buatsi warned. “The weeks and weeks away are for moments like this. The emotions you get now, nothing can replicate it.
“These are the nights where I get the emotions, when I’m someone else. I can’t replicate it, this kind of feeling. So, to be able to experience this in its natural form is amazing.
“We’re here. I’m happy to be here and I’m looking forward to the fight. Saturday couldn’t come any quicker.”
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