Less than 48 hours after knocking out local man Thomas Faure to win the European light-heavyweight title in Paris, Dan Azeez was at the foot of the Eiffel Tower asking other tourists to take a picture of him with his new belt.
Whether it was missing his Eurostar to Paris, losing his new fight shorts in the post, or failing to make championship weight at the first attempt, this was a stressful fight week for Azeez, the undefeated Londoner.
“This is why I wanted to go away,” he tells BoxingScene.com. “You need these experiences. I could have fought on the March 25 show in Manchester but we thought Paris was a good opportunity, have an away day, bank the experience and add to my journey.
“It meant more to me, I went away and beat a Frenchman in France.”
It was no surprise, then, that Azeez decided against heading straight back across The Channel on Sunday, like the rest of his team. Instead, he decided to spend a few days alone exploring the city that played host to his greatest night as a pro so far.
“I’ll just go down to the hotel reception and ask them all the best stuff to do,” he adds. “Obviously there are loads of things to see here. I’m going to take my belts everywhere so I can get some photos and soak it all up.
“But I need to buy a proper backpack for them because at the moment I’m just carrying them around Paris in a Sainsbury’s carrier bag.”
But while Azeez is climbing the Eiffel Tower, wandering around Notre Dame Cathedral and queuing at the Louvre, talk back home in England has already turned to what is next for the 33-year-old.
His promoters Boxxer are set to add another light-heavyweight, and one of Azeez’s best friends in boxing, Joshua Buatsi to their ranks which has further fueled speculation that they could fight this year.
“Whether he signed or not, if we’re going to fight we’re going to fight,” Azeez says.
“From day one, when we were just starting out, he would say ‘come on man, if we get offered the right amount you know we will do this’. It’s not the first time old friends are going to fight and it won’t be the last. If it’s right then it’s right.
“I take it as a compliment because you see when I was coming up, I was shit. I wasn’t a good amateur but Buatsi was flying. He’s someone I proper learned from. But now they’re putting us on the same level and rightly so because I’ve earned it. Even he says I’ve worked my way up, ‘well done Dan’. He’s seen it from the beginning, let’s see where it goes now.”
There appears to be something of a log jam at the top of the division. A four-belt unification between WBC, IBF and WBO champion Artur Beterbiev and WBA king Dmitry Bivol is still yet to be agreed. Callum Smith, who is mandatory for that WBC belt, could be the next to fight the Russian.
It had been suggested that Eddie Hearn may retain the services of Buatsi, who has been a Matchroom fighter ever since he turned professional after the 2016 Olympics, by securing him a Bivol fight but the Brit’s move to Boxxer might scupper that.
Meanwhile, Frank Warren has revealed that he tried and failed to make a fight between Anthony Yarde and Buatsi.
Azeez, meanwhile, has spent years as the forgotten man of the division but with only one belt left to secure, knows he is on the cusp of elite level.
“If they offer me a world title fight now, I’ll take it,” he adds. “I feel like it’s a win-win.
“It’s the only belt I haven’t won yet. But fights with Bivol or Beterbiev, why would I turn that down?
“I honestly don’t know what’s next. I was supposed to be back out in May but my team said I fought in December and March, they want me to have a break. But I just like to fight, this is my job and I don’t do anything else.
“I’ll probably head straight out to wherever Buddy McGirt is, whether that’s LA or Florida. I want to work on my craft, man. I’m stepping up now, I’m getting ready for the world scene now. It’s not about getting there and fumbling, I need to be ready. I’ll go back out to America within the next few weeks.
“France has been great but now I have to build on it.”
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