In the gritty ring of London’s OVO Arena, Joshua Buatsi (18-0, 13 KOs) unleashed a relentless barrage with his thunderous jab and tireless engine, grinding down Dan Azeez (20-1, 13 KOs) to win a 12-round unanimous decision in a grueling WBA light heavyweight title eliminator scrap.
Let’s not sugarcoat it, the bout was a proper slugfest for the 30-year-old Buatsi, a relic from the 2016 British Olympic squad. The lad had to dig deep, fend off the early hustle, and weather a stormy comeback from the robust Azeez, especially in the grand finale of the twelfth, to lock down the win.
Judges tossed scores of 116-110 and two 117-109s in the ring, setting Buatsi up for a shot at the big leagues against whoever emerges victorious from the Dmitry Bivol vs. Artur Beterbiev tussle for the WBA light heavyweight crown on June 1st.
The opening rounds saw Buatsi in fine fettle, hurling combos and keeping Azeez too tied up to mount his own offensive. But lo and behold, Azeez wasn’t having any of it by the fifth, coming back with a vengeance, his punches sharp enough to give Buatsi a good shake, making him rethink his strategy.
The mid-fight rounds turned into a tit-for-tat of heavy hits, with both fighters landing solid punches, turning the fight into a guessing game of who’s on top.
Come the 11th, Buatsi grabbed the reins, sending Azeez to the canvas twice. The second tumble seemed a bit of a slip, but the first? A cracking right from Buatsi had Azeez hitting the deck hard. Azeez’s protests fell on deaf ears, and down he stayed.
In a last-ditch effort, Azeez threw caution to the wind in the 12th, hunting for a knockout. Buatsi, however, stood his ground, absorbed the onslaught, and rang the final bell standing, hand raised in victory.
Azim Takes Down Poulsen in Undercard Drama
Meanwhile, in the undercard antics, EBU light welterweight champ Adam Azim (11-0, 8 KOs) put on a clinic against Enock Poulsen (14-1, 5 KOs), calling it a day in the fifth with Poulsen nursing a dodgy shoulder, ending the bout at 2:39. Poulsen’s misfortune turned into Azim’s triumph, adding a bit of unexpected drama to the night’s proceedings.