Joshua Buatsi and Dan Azeez could very well meet later this year.
News of their fight being a done deal, however, was a surprise to everyone involved in such a fight.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that talks are in place for a potential showdown between the pair of unbeaten light heavyweights and close friends. However, there is no deal yet in place, nor will the fight take place August 19 even if terms are agreed in the coming days or weeks.
Boxing News was first to report the correct current status of Buatsi-Azeez.
A press release sent out earlier in the week suggested that the WBA has officially sanctioned a light heavyweight title eliminator, and that BOXXER—the promoter of record for both boxers—set aside August 19 for the fight to take place.
Buatsi and Azeez are ranked number-one and number-two, respectively, for the WBA light heavyweight title currently held by Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11KOs).
Representatives for both camps denied the previous reports that a deal was reached but would not further elaborate. Neither BOXXER nor the WBA have yet to confirm that such a fight was finalized, despite a distributed press release with a BOXXER letterhead but which didn't originate from the company's press office.
Azeez (19-0, 13KOs) is trained by Hall of Fame former two-division world champion James ‘Buddy’ McGirt, as is former super middleweight titlist and current WBC 175-pound mandatory challenger Callum Smith. McGirt will be in the corner of Liverpool’s Smith (29-1, 21KOs) in his title bid versus lineal, WBC, IBF and WBO champ Artur Beterbiev on August 19 in Quebec City, Canada.
Talks of a potential Buatsi-Azeez fight first surfaced when Croydon’s Buatsi (17-0, 13KOs) signed with Ben Shalom’s BOXXER earlier this spring. The 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist made his company debut in a May 6 points win over then-unbeaten Pawel Stepien in Birmingham, England. Azeez was an active part of fight week, both in support of Buatsi and to help drum up interest for their potential meeting.
Azeez—a 33-year-old contender from Lewisham, London—is coming off a 12th round knockout of Thomas Faure on a March 11 ESPN+/Sky Sports show from Paris, France.
Should the two meet, the winner would become the mandatory for Bivol who remains without an opponent for fight date for a targeted voluntary title defense. Azeez’s name was mentioned as a possible candidate to land the straightaway title shot in lieu of a fight with Buatsi, as has countryman Anthony Yarde (23-3, 22KOs), a two-time title challenger from Ilford, Essex.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox