Joshua Buatsi (18-0, 13 KOs) used his powerful jab and superior work rate to pound out a 12-round unanimous over Dan Azeez (20-1, 13 KOs) in a war on Saturday night in a WBA light heavyweight title eliminator at the ovo arena in London, England.
The fight was far from easy for the 30-year-old 2016 British Olympian Buatsi. He battled hard through the early going and held off a late surge from the powerful 34-year-old Azeez in the twelfth to cement the victory.
The scores were 116-110, 117-109, and 117-109. Buatsi’s victory puts him in a position to challenge for a world title against the winner of the June 1st fight between WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol and IBF/WBC/WBO champ Artur Beterbiev.
In the first four rounds, Buatsi looked powerful, throwing combinations, keeping Azeem busy and unable to go on the attack. Azeem came storming back in the fifth round, throwing heavy leather that snapped Buatsi’s head back, and making him think twice about throwing the combos he’d been doing.
From rounds seven through ten, the fighters took turns landing big shots, making it difficult to choose between them at times.
In the 11th, Buatsi took control of the fight, knocking Azeez down twice in the round. The second knockdown looked like it was caused by Azeez slipping on the canvas.
However, in the first knockdown, Buatsi landed a crushing right hand to the head of Azeez, bowling him over like a pin at a bowling alley. Azeez’s complaints to the referee went unanswered, and the knockdown stood.
In the 12th, Azeez went all out, trying to score a knockout, but Buatsi took his best shots and made it through to the final bell to win.
Azim Victorious Over Poulsen
On the undercard, EBU light welterweight champion Adam Azim (11-0, 8 KOs) dominated Enock Poulsen (14-1, 5 KOs), scoring a fifth-round injury stoppage. Poulsen suffered a shoulder injury in round five, causing the bout to be halted at the 2:39 mark.