Joshua Buatsi and Dan Azeez both put on an excellent performance at the OVO Arena on Saturday night with the pair leaving everything in the ring. 

Buatsi scored two knockdowns in the 11th round, but both could have been considered slips. Although punches were thrown by Buatsi, it seemed Azeez lost his footing on both occasions he hit the canvas. 

The knockdowns widened the judges’ scorecards, unanimously scoring the contest in favour of Buatsi, 117-109, 117-109 and 116-117.

The result improved Buatsi’s record to 18-0 (13 KOs) and was an eliminator for the WBA world title held by Dmitry Bivol, whereas it was Azeez’s first time suffering defeat in his 21st fight. 

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03: Joshua Buatsi and Dan Azeez exchange punches during the British and Commonwealth Light Heavyweight title fight between Dan Azeez and Joshua Buatsi at OVO Arena Wembley on February 03, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03: Joshua Buatsi and Dan Azeez exchange punches during the British and Commonwealth Light Heavyweight title fight between Dan Azeez and Joshua Buatsi at OVO Arena Wembley on February 03, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

Buatsi did enough without the knockdowns to win on the judges’ cards as he was landing the more effective eye-catching shots when the pair exchanged. 

Both men had success throughout the fight, with Buatsi targeting the body early.

Azeez was able to have his own success when he closed the distance and looked to counter. 

Both showed caution in the first round, but Buatsi got the better of the second and third landing significant shots. Azeez’s work rate allowed him to be more successful and land his own shots in the third. 

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03: Joshua Buatsi punches Dan Azeez exchange during the British and Commonwealth Light Heavyweight title fight between Dan Azeez and Joshua Buatsi at OVO Arena Wembley on February 03, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03: Joshua Buatsi punches Dan Azeez exchange during the British and Commonwealth Light Heavyweight title fight between Dan Azeez and Joshua Buatsi at OVO Arena Wembley on February 03, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

As each round went by the work rate and pace of the contest continued to increase, despite the pace both were continuing to throw heavy blows with hurtful intentions.   

The fight erupted in the fifth round as both men landed heavy shots and neither of them wanted to take a step back. Both showed great heart to take punches and reply instantly. 

The pair continued with their high-quality work landing impressive shots, every punch met with applaud from the London crowd. 

Azeez’s jab started to land more often but Buatsi was still landing at a higher output as the two continued their exchanges. 

Neither fighter wanted to take a backwards step

Both fighters landed with spiteful right uppercuts in the seventh round, these were again met with an instant response from the other. 

The issues with the slippery canvas started to show in the eighth, with both fighters losing their footing. Azeez’s corner thew over a towel to the referee who dried the canvas.  

By the 11th round the canvas was still incredibly slippery and certainly played a part in the two knockdowns Buatsi scored.

Azeez was noticeably frustrated by the knockdowns and set a frantic pace to end the round, which was matched by Buatsi.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03: Joshua Buatsi knocks down Dan Azeez during the British and Commonwealth Light Heavyweight title fight between Dan Azeez and Joshua Buatsi at OVO Arena Wembley on February 03, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03: Joshua Buatsi knocks down Dan Azeez during the British and Commonwealth Light Heavyweight title fight between Dan Azeez and Joshua Buatsi at OVO Arena Wembley on February 03, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

Going into the final round, both fighters had given everything and were breathing heavy. It was obvious Azeez was down on the scorecards after the previous round. 

Azeez swung everything he had in the final round, breathing heavy from his open mouth. However, Buatsi replied well and landed the better shots, rocking an exhausted Azeez. Buatsi finished strong until the final bell.

The pair embraced as the bell sounded after an excellent fight. They showed an incredible level of respect to one another after Buatsi was announced as the winner to settle a fantastic domestic rivalry

After the fight

During the post-fight interviews, both showed respect and Buatsi said: “Dan pushed me every round, he is a champion.

“I couldn’t have done it without him. It was a pleasure sharing the ring with him, he made me fight every second.”

A disappointed Azeez added: “He was just the better man tonight. He came and performed, he is a great athlete in and out of the ring and I respect him a lot.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03: Joshua Buatsi celebrates as Referee Bob Williams announces him as winner following the British and Commonwealth Light Heavyweight title fight between Dan Azeez and Joshua Buatsi at OVO Arena Wembley on February 03, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03: Joshua Buatsi celebrates as Referee Bob Williams announces him as winner following the British and Commonwealth Light Heavyweight title fight between Dan Azeez and Joshua Buatsi at OVO Arena Wembley on February 03, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

 

Azeez will look to regroup and come again after the dust has settled. The win could set up another fantastic domestic fight for Buatsi between himself and Anthony Yarde if the Bivol fight can’t be made

“If a world title shot can’t be next, I would love to sneak in a Yarde fight,” Buatsi said when asked about Yarde. 

Undercard

On the undercard Adam Azim defended his European super-lightweight title against Enock Poulsen. Poulson was unable to continue in the fifth round after  badly dislocating his right shoulder and was forced to retire. 

The fight didn’t have much chance to get going before the forced stoppage with both fighters starting to slowly grow into the contest.

In his post-fight interview Azim said: “I didn’t really have time to show more, I get better as the rounds go. I’m a bit gutted, I wanted to press and get him out of there properly.”

Caroline Dubois successfully defended her IBO lightweight world title after dominating Miranda Reyes over 10 rounds. 

It was Dubois’ first defence of her title, and she won every round of the contest to take her record to 9-0 (5 KOs). Dubois boxed well and landed heavy shots, most noticeably her lead right hook.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03: Caroline Dubois punches Miranda Reyes during to the IBO World Lightweight title fight between Caroline Dubois and Miranda Reyes at OVO Arena Wembley on February 03, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03: Caroline Dubois punches Miranda Reyes during to the IBO World Lightweight title fight between Caroline Dubois and Miranda Reyes at OVO Arena Wembley on February 03, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

Olympic Silver medallist Ben Whittaker improved his record to 6-0 (5 KOs) in classy style as he stopped tough opponent Khalid Graidia

It was a typical Whittaker performance as he put on a show for the crowd, taunting his opponent and dancing as he avoided shots. 

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03: Ben Whittaker dodges the punch of Khalid Graidia during the Light Heavyweight fight between Ben Whittaker and Khalid Graidia at OVO Arena Wembley on February 03, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03: Ben Whittaker dodges the punch of Khalid Graidia during the Light Heavyweight fight between Ben Whittaker and Khalid Graidia at OVO Arena Wembley on February 03, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

The referee had to worn Whittaker twice during the contest, once for turning his back and the other for a rabbit punch. The Surgeon’s style may split opinions of viewers, but yet again he backed up his ability. 

He stopped an overwhelmed Graidia in the fifth round after a heavy combination and will be looking to up the level of opponent in his next fight and continue to entertain.