DAN AZEEZ will head to Paris for the following cease on his whistlestop journey in direction of world title competition. The 33-year-old is already the primary British light-heavyweight to win all the British Boxing Board of Management belts at home stage and added the Commonwealth title to his assortment by beating Rocky Fielding in December.
Now he has been rewarded with this crack at European champion Thomas Faure, the 21-4-1 (2) Frenchman. Faure, of Chateauroux, will get pleasure from house benefit in Paris, which is round 250km north of the city the place he presently resides.
Azeez has been one of many unsung heroes of British boxing since COVID hit in 2020 – and he has completed the enterprise all around the nation. He received English title fights in Kirkby and Bolton, received the British in London after which defended it in Liverpool earlier than December’s triumph in Bournemouth. Just a little journey throughout the Channel is unlikely to faze him.
“I wish to be the king of Europe,” he stated. “So why not go and combat for the title wherever within the continent?”
This combat had been scheduled to happen on the Wembley Enviornment final month however when Azeez fell unwell throughout January it was postponed. He had hoped to land on a card in England, maybe the one headlined by his former stable-mate and one-time beginner opponent Lawrence Okolie, however he has been despatched to France as an alternative. The present is a co-promotion between Boxxer and All Star Boxing and might be broadcast on Sky Sports activities right here within the UK and Canal+ in France.
Azeez admits he is aware of little of Faure, and he’s not alone. The Frenchman has by no means boxed outdoors his house nation and has not had a combat since he received the vacant European title again in January 2022 – so way back that he’s presently thought-about ‘inactive’ by Boxrec.
That night time he claimed a unanimous choice over his compatriot Kevin Thomas Cojean who moved to 27-10-2 (11) on account of the defeat. It was a rematch of their 10-round draw a 12 months earlier. He has additionally beforehand gone the 10-round distance with Tony Averlant who was stopped in a single spherical by Joshua Buatsi, and 7 by Anthony Yarde.
Certainly, Faure could have grown accustomed to distance fights over the course of his profession with simply two stoppage victories out of 21 up to now. He has additionally been crushed inside the space solely as soon as, towards Eddy Lacrosse again in 2018.
Azeez could take some confidence from the character of that seventh-round end from Lacrosse who, like him, is a shorter, compact light-heavyweight who closed the space to the rangey Faure, routinely slipping inside his lengthy levers and dealing on the within. Faure seems to love maintaining issues lengthy however 5ft 10in Azeez has made a dwelling from making issues uncomfortable for taller opponents.
As such, count on Buddy McGirt-trained Azeez to put on Faure down all through the primary half of the combat earlier than turning the screw and forcing a stoppage between rounds six and 9 to assert the belt.
That conflict, nonetheless, is just not the principle occasion on the Zenith de Paris, the 6,000-seater area just a few miles north of the town centre in La Villette. On the high of the invoice, Paris-born heavyweight Tony Yoka takes on fellow Frenchman Carlos Takam as he makes an attempt to start rebuilding from the primary defeat of his profession final trip.
On Might 14, the 2016 Olympic champion Yoka dropped a majority choice to Martin Bakole in what was his solely combat of 2022 however he’ll get again on the horse with what seems like a stern check towards Nevada-based Takam, a former opponent of Anthony Joshua, Joe Joyce and a plethora of different high heavyweights.
At 42, nonetheless, Takam is properly previous his greatest and arrives in Paris off the again of two defeats: one, that sixth-round knockout by Joyce and most just lately a 10-round factors loss by the hands of Arslanbek Makhmudov.
Yoka, 30, ought to be too younger and contemporary for Takam at this stage and a factors win on this 10-rounder appears most probably. If Yoka is severe about ever difficult for world titles, he can not afford to slide up towards an ageing Takam right here.
In addition to Azeez, there’s different British curiosity on the cardboard with Wales’ Lauren Worth vying to proceed her regular progress as knowledgeable when she takes on Germany’s challenger Naomi Mannes.
The 28-year-old, whose final outing was a defeat to Englishwoman Kirstie Bavington for the European welterweight title in November, is 6-1 (4), will do properly to final the space with a match and firing Worth, who has received her first two outings as knowledgeable with little bother.
Worth has fond recollections of Paris, the place she booked her spot for the 2020 Olympics, and it’s unlikely that she’s going to style defeat hers. The 28-year-old, from Ystrad Mynach, Wales, went on to win gold in Tokyo and appears even higher suited to the skilled sport.
“I used to be proud to characterize Nice Britain all around the world in my beginner profession,” she stated. “And going to Paris, the place I certified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, for my third skilled bout provides me the same feeling.
“I do know that Naomi Mannes just lately challenged for the European title so she’s undoubtedly a step up in competitors. I can’t wait to recover from to France and present the world what I’ve been engaged on.”
There’s additionally a run-out for Wythenshawe’s Macaulay McGowan, who has now received three 4 rounders since he was crushed over 10 rounds by 48-year-old Sergio Martinez final 12 months. He takes on house favorite Farrhad Saad who’s 8-0-1, however is but to complete a combat inside the space.
McGowan, skilled by Joe Gallagher, has blended at a far greater stage than Saad and might be hoping to make his expertise depend on the night time. The Englishman is aware of a win right here might fireplace him into far larger fights underneath the Boxxer banner sooner or later.
THE VERDICT: Azeez doing issues the old fashioned approach.