Joshua Buatsi v Dan Azeez: Anthony Yarde preview British light-heavyweight fight

Anthony Yarde writes for BBC Sport previewing Joshua Buatsi’s light-heavyweight fight against Dan Azeez on Saturday in London.

The two-time world title challenger also runs the rule over a hugely competitive light-heavyweight scene in the UK and looks to his own future before his comeback on 10 February.

Who is the best light-heavyweight in Britain? Could the winner of Buatsi v Azeez fight Yarde?

Myself, Joshua Buatsi and Dan Azeez are all light-heavyweights from London. I see them around a lot.

Fans might wonder what happens when rivals meet out of the ring.

But there’s no drama when I see them. I’ve known Azeez for years, we used to train out of the same gym before I turned pro. He’s a good guy, I always hug him when I see him. We talk as normal. It’s the same with Craig Richards, another light-heavyweight from South London. Buatsi has always been more of a business relationship.

But I do see him around. I ran into him not long ago at a birthday party of Stormzy – the rapper is a friend of mine. I saw Buatsi and we talked about fighting each other. But the talk of me and Buatsi fighting has gone on a long time.

I watched Buatsi at the 2012 Olympics. All I saw then was a London boy in the Olympics, so I was supporting him.

He got a bronze medal. That was brilliant to me. I started boxing soon after.

As soon as he turned professional, because I was making noise, his name started coming up. You don’t mention Buatsi’s name without mentioning mine. To be honest, I blame Eddie Hearn, his previous promoter.

Every time Buatsi fought, Hearn mentioned my name.

It became a trend. I feel like that annoyed Buatsi a little bit. It would annoy me. I’ve been asked a lot of questions about Buatsi in my career and I always answer honestly.

His whole career has been based off of me, without even fighting. I said that to him as well.

At Stormzy’s birthday party, we agreed it’s time to fight. I saw him at York Hall last October and we agreed it’s time to fight. Sometimes it’s all about timing.

Azeez and Buatsi fight each other on Saturday. Either of them against me is a bigger draw than one of them fighting for a world title. That’s not me being cocky.

I fought Artur Beterbiev, the monster. I went to Russia to fight Sergey Kovalev. I’ve taken all the big risks in world title fights and I feel like I’m respected for it.

Everyone saw what I did against Beterbiev. I have no fear.

For Azeez or Buatsi to fight me, it’s a big fight. But fighting each other, my name is still getting thrown in there as ‘the winner fights Anthony’ – so I’m the prize here?

Source: BBC News

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