Joshua Buatsi and Dan Azeez now have a confirmed fight date.
The pair of unbeaten light heavyweights have agreed to terms for a WBA light heavyweight eliminator, which will headline an October 21 Sky Sports show from The O2 in London. Lead event promoter BOXXER confirmed the status on Wednesday, ending weeks of speculation of such a fight gracing the fall calendar.
News of their fight being a done deal, however, was a surprise to everyone involved in such a fight.
Buatsi and Azeez—who are close friends outside the ring—are ranked number-one and number-two, respectively, for the WBA light heavyweight title currently held by Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11KOs). The winner of the bout will become the mandatory challenger held by the suddenly inactive Bivol, who has yet to fight since his 2022 Fighter of the Year tour.
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 (19-0, 13KOs) was an active part of fight week, both in support of Buatsi and to help drum up interest for their potential meeting. The 33-year-old contender from Lewisham, London—who is trained by Hall of Fame former two-division champion James ‘Buddy’ McGirt—is coming off a 12th round knockout of Thomas Faure on a March 11 ESPN+/Sky Sports show from Paris, France.
Interestingly, Azeez’s name was previously mentioned as a possible candidate to land the straightaway title shot, though it never proved to be anything more than a rumor.
Buatsi was also previously in the mix for a fight with Bivol, but at a time when he was uncertain about his future with former promoter Matchroom Boxing. He has since made the decision to further develop as a pro, a route preferred by head trainer Virgil Hunter who hoped for at least two more fights at the contender level before a shot at the top prize.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox