Whilst boxing fans are still disappointed by the late cancellation of the eagerly awaited WBA light heavyweight title eliminator between unbeaten South London rivals Dan Azeez and Joshua Buatsi, boxing business must continue for those involved in the fight.
British, Commonwealth and European champion, Azeez, withdrew from the fight on Tuesday citing a back injury. Promoters, Boxxer, decided to save the undercard - which features the British and Commonwealth cruiserweight title fight between Mikael Lawal and Isaac Chamberlain - and moved quickly to switch the show a few miles from the cavernous O2 Arena to the smaller York Hall.
Rather than being at the center of the action in London, Azeez’s trainer, Buddy McGirt, sat quietly at a press conference in Liverpool where another of his fighters, unbeaten junior welterweight Khalil Majid, boxes Tom Farrell on the undercard of the 140lb fight between Jack Catterall and Jorge Linares.
Unsurprisingly, McGirt was asked about Azeez’s injury and how it may have occurred.
“We trained on Monday. We were driving and he kept arching up in the car. I’m like, ‘What’s the matter?’ He’s like, ‘My back. I’m gonna go and get it checked out.’ He went and got it checked out and here we are. They said it was a sprain or something,” McGirt told Boxing News.
The injury may have flared up on Monday but McGirt believes it first showed up a week or so earlier. Azeez sought out help and continued to try and work through the problem but, as fight week got underway, the issue became more serious. Finally, the decision was made to withdraw Azeez from the fight.
“A week ago he said, ‘I need a good stretch for my lower back.’ He went to a wellness center I believe and said it felt a little better and then, like I said, on Monday he was complaining about his lower back,” McGirt said. “We did a light workout and he goes, ‘I’m gonna go my back checked out.’ I said no problem, he went and got it checked out and here we are now.”
The postponement of a big fight is disappointing for fans but heartbreaking for the fighters. McGirt feels like Azeez was peaking at the perfect time when the injury struck. Now, he will have to go through the process all over again although when that will be remains to be seen.
“I have no clue. I couldn’t answer that question,” McGirt said. “I was confident. Everything was on schedule. The bus was running on schedule. The timing was there. Everything was falling in place and then that [happened].”