Friendships are put aside for something much bigger at Wembley Arena in London this Saturday evening, as Joshua Buatsi and Dan Azeez battle in a final eliminator for the WBA light heavyweight title over twelve rounds at the top of a Boxxer promoted bill.
Buatsi vs Azeez has been re-scheduled from October 2023, after the latter suffered a training injury on fight week. Dimitry Bivol currently holds the belt that these two are aiming for a shot at.
Sky Sports televise live in the UK, with Peacock airing the card in the USA.
Buatsi (17-0, 13 KOs) was a 2016 Olympic bronze medallist, but after being fast-tracked under Eddie Hearn and Matchroom towards a world title shot, the Croydon man decided to part ways with the promotional outfit last year. He had briefly also reigned as British champion.
Buatsi parted with a tight win on the scorecards against Craig Richards, and would then align himself with Boxxer. His debut for his new paymaster was a laboured affair in Birmingham back in May, as he took a clear points win against Pawel Stepien.
Lewisham’s Azeez (20-0, 13 KOs) has done things the more traditional way, and has continually impressed of late. Azeez claimed the vacant British title left behind by Buatsi in November 2021, stopping Hosea Burton in seven, and after defending against Shakan Pitters on points, he then picked up the vacant Commonwealth crown, halting former world champion Rocky Fielding in eight last December.
The European title was added in March, with Azeez travelling to France to stop the tough Thomas Faure in the final frame, and ‘Super’ ticked over in July in Italy, taking a points win over eight against Khalid Graidia.
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) March 12, 2023
Prediction: This could be an interesting contest, and I can see Azeez having early successes. If Buatsi can weather the early storm, he can pull away down the stretch for a win on the scorecards.
Hot prospects litter the undercard.
Adam Azim (10-0, 7 KOs) defends his European super lightweight title for the first time against Denmark’s Enock Poulsen (14-0, 5 K)s). Both have a common opponent in Franck Petitjean.
Poulsen won a tight decision to win the European title in April 2022, while Petitjean was Azim’s last opponent, with the Slough man dropping the Frenchman twice before winning in the tenth round to take the belt.
Prediction: Azim should retain here inside schedule.
Another making a first defence is Caroline Dubois (8-0, 5 KOs) and she puts her IBO lightweight title on the line as she waits for a title shot with the major governing bodies. The Londoner goes up against Miranda Reyes (7-1-1, 3 KOs). Dubois won the vacant belt last September, dropping the game Magali Rodriguez three times on the way to a clear points win.
Texas-based Reyes’ only loss came over six to the then 1-4-1 Jaica Pavilus in February 2022, and she hasn’t been past eight rounds before.
Prediction: Dubois on the cards is the pick in this one.
The flashy former Olympic Silver medallist Ben Whittaker (5-0, 4 KOs) also sees action, and he takes on the tough, aforementioned Khalid Graidia (10-13-5, 2 KOs) over a scheduled eight at light heavyweight.
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Prediction: Graidia has only been halted twice, but Whittaker can add to that list with a win before the halfway mark.
Jeamie TKV (5-1, 3 KOs) returns after suffering stoppage defeat in his last contest, and he should take a win over the six round distance at heavyweight against Kostiantyn Dovbyshchenko (10-14-1, 7 KOs), who has never been stopped.
Fran Hennessey (2-0, 1 KOs) can stay undefeated with a points win over six at bantamweight against Laura Belen Valdebenito (5-5-1, 2 KOs).