Buatsi v Azeez: Battle of the British Light-Heavyweights

Bovada welcomes back our guest pundit, Natasha Turkington. This week, Natasha weighs in on Buatsi vs Azeez. You can follow Natasha on Twitter at @natashaturk.

Buatsi vs Azeez

This Saturday, February 3rd is not only an almighty Battle of the British boxing ring, it is East London locking horns.

Friends have become enemies in the lead-up to the WBA light heavyweight eliminator which takes place at the Wembley Arena, London. The 12-round bout, plus undercard action, will be broadcast by Sky Sports in the U.K. and by Peacock in the U.S.

Unlike the majority of fighters who face off in huge clashes such as this one, Joshua Buatsi and Daniel Azeez are genuine friends and have been close friends for a long time. You will see none of the trademark trash talk that comes as part and parcel of boxing build-up to sell tickets due to the huge respect they have for each other. They share a history in boxing and have spent many, many years sparring together at the same gym. Now they fight for real and their history must be forgotten.

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The Fighters

What an incredible fight this is going to be; Buatsi and Azeez are ranked No.1 and No.2 by WBA (World Boxing Association) with each man putting his unbeaten record on the line. A world title shot is on the table for the winner, as both fighters look to build on previous reigns with the British belt.

Buatsi (17-0, 13 KOs) won Olympic silver at the 2016 games in Rio. The 30-year-old is a big puncher and has outstanding technical ability, his boxing brain is one of the best I’ve seen at this weight, which is evidenced by his 76-percent knockout ratio. Signature wins have come against Ricards Bolotniks and Craig Richards.

Azeez (20-0, 13 KOs) had a more low-key rise to professional success. But while there was no Olympic glory, the 34-year-old contender has claimed British, Commonwealth and European championships to establish himself as a top force at 175 pounds. Among his notable victories are Hosea Burton and Thomas Faure.

This bout was supposed to take place in October but was called off just four days before fight night when Azeez suffered a back injury.

Injury woes in the past, it is now time for war. And, at the press conference this week, Azeez donned a Marvin Hagler style cap emblazoned with the word ‘WAR’. When asked about it, he responded – “I’m just at war with everything. I’m at war with myself to improve. I’m at war with a friend who’s in front of my dreams and aspirations. Just war. I see an entertaining, brutal fight, ultimately with my hand being raised.”

Buatsi simply replied – “I win.”

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Buatsi vs Azeez Odds

This is one hell of a close fight, a lot closer than the odds might indicate. However, it is difficult to see past Joshua Buatsi, who is so experienced at controlling the centre of the ring. There is no doubt Azeez will win rounds, he is tough and durable but he could find it difficult to fight to his strengths against Buatsi’s power.

I tip Joshua Buatsi to win by KO inside 12 rounds, here are the odds –

Buatsi: -435

Azeez: +295

You can find all the markets available for the fight by heading over to Bovada’s Boxing Odds page.