Friends have become enemies in the lead-up to the WBA light heavyweight eliminator between Londoners Joshua Buatsi and Dan Azeez, which takes place at the Wembley Arena on February 3. The 12-round bout, plus undercard action, will be broadcast by Sky Sports in the U.K. and by Peacock in the U.S.
Buatsi (17-0, 13 KOs) won Olympic silver at the 2016 games in Rio and is unbeaten as a professional. The 30-year-old boxer-puncher has excellent craft and state-of-the-art hitting power, which is evidenced by his 76-percent knockout ratio. Signature wins have come against Ricards Bolotniks and Craig Richards.
Azeez (20-0, 13 KOs) had a more low-key rise to professional success. But while there was no Olympic glory, the 34-year-old contender has claimed British, Commonwealth and European championships to establish himself as a top force at 175 pounds. Among his notable victories are Hosea Burton and Thomas Faure.
This bout was supposed to take place in October but was called off four days before fight night when Azeez suffered a back injury. The animosity has continued to fester in the lead-up to the new date and a brutal collision is expected when the pair enter the ring.
The Sporting News now takes a deep dive into the odds for this all-British light heavyweight shootout:
MORE: SN’s Top-12 light heavyweight boxers
Joshua Buatsi vs. Dan Azeez betting odds
Per DraftKings, Buatsi is the -390 favourite while Azeez is the +280 underdog.
Joshua Buatsi vs. Dan Azeez betting trends
The following odds are provided by DraftKings:
- Buatsi via KO/TKO/Tech. Dec/DQ: +285
- Buatsi via decision: -135
- Azeez via KO/TKO/Tech. Dec/ DQ: +700
- Azeez via decision: +550
- Draw: +1600
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Joshua Buatsi vs. Dan Azeez prediction, best bets
This is an intriguing clash of styles.
Buatsi is an excellent boxer who can fight, while Azeez is a pressure fighter who can box. Both men are liable to switch roles throughout this fight and the fans will be the beneficiaries.
Thanks largely to his amateur pedigree and ring IQ, Buatsi likes to box smart and control distance. His jab is a sharp weapon that sets up a wide variety of power punching and he has the engine to keep up a hot pace.
Underdog Azeez likes to apply pressure with his feet, maintain a high guard and work for three minutes of every round. He’s tough, durable and very hard to discourage, which can be demoralising for the opposition.
This is a close fight, a lot closer than the odds might indicate. However, it’s difficult to see past Buatsi, who will focus on keeping this fight in the centre of the ring. I do not doubt that Azeez will have success, but he’ll find it a lot more difficult to fight to his strengths on this occasion.
A knockout is unlikely from either side, so I foresee Buatsi prevailing on the cards by margins around the 117-111 range.
Sporting News prediction: Buatsi UD 12 (Per DraftKings -135)
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