The wait wasn’t ideal but Joshua Buatsi can live with the timing of his high-profile domestic showdown.
The 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist and top-rated contender faces fellow unbeaten British light heavyweight Dan Azeez. Their scheduled twelve-round contest is a sanctioned WBA title eliminator, which will leave the winner as the mandatory challenger to current titlist Dmitry Bivol (22-0, 11KOs).
With heavy talks of Bivol potentially next facing lineal/WBC/IBF/WBO champ Artur Beterbiev (20-0, 20KOs) in June, the stakes are actually higher for this weekend’s headliner from OVO Arena Wembley in London.
“A win in this will put me in a very strong position,” Buatsi told BoxingScene.com. “Depending on the timing of it, the winner on Saturday could get Bivol next or the winner of Bivol-Beterbiev. I will only have to decide whether I want to fight for one belt or all.”
Saturday’s bout tops a show that will air live on Sky Sports in the U.K. (7:00 p.m. GMT) and Peacock+ in the U.S. (2:00 p.m. ET).
It comes after a yet another long wait outside the ring for Buatsi (17-0, 13KOs), a Ghana native based in Croydon, London who fought just once in each of the past two years. A promotional split with Matchroom Boxing attributed to the gap between his May 2022 WBA semi-final elimination victory over Craig Richards and last May’s ten-round win over unbeaten Pawel Stepien.
The win over Stepien marked Buatsi’s first fight with BOXXER. He now headlines on a much higher profile show versus a fellow unbeaten Londoner in Azeez (20-0, 13KOs). The two were supposed to meet last October but an ankle injury forced Azeez to withdraw during fight week.
Absence only made his fighting heart grow fonder.
“With the fight being rescheduled and making me wait, I’m eager and really looking forward to this,” insisted Buatsi, who is the number-one ranked WBA contender. “It’s a very important fight, given what’s at stake.
“It’s a big fight with a lot of eyes on it. It’s number-one versus number-two, so it should be a good fight, right?”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox