Before Chris Eubank Jr fought Liam Smith on Saturday night, Joshua Buatsi and Dan Azeez went head-to-head in the ring in Manchester.
It’s the last time they will step through the ropes together before they fight at the O2 Arena in London next month, live on Sky Sports.
They locked eyes in a staredown that neither was willing to break.
“I expect that from him, he wouldn’t want to break the stare and nor would I,” Azeez told the Toe2Toe podcast.
Buatsi had “no doubt” that he’d be victorious. “No more friendship. It’s fight time,” he declared.
Azeez knew that he meant it. “I could see it in his eyes too,” he said. “The friendship’s definitely aside now and we’re ready to rock and roll.”
Buatsi had pointed to centre of the ring, demanding that Azeez meet him there, head on in their fight.
“There’s no giving away the tactics. Everyone knows how I fight, he knows how I fight, fans know how I fight. I bring the heat,” Azeez said.
“So it’s not a callout, I’ve sparred him so many times so there’s not really much to give away. I fight how I fight. That’s what he’s expecting and that’s what he’s going to get.”
Another London light-heavyweight, Anthony Yarde, who’s seen as a potential future rival for Buatsi, has suggested that Azeez will win their October 21 clash.
“I’ve sparred Yarde before, I’m sure he has a gauge of what I’m like and we used to train together at Peacock’s [gym] so he knows how hard I work and train so that’s probably why he tipped me to win,” Azeez said.
“But opinions are opinions. Everyone’s got one. It’s about delivering on the night.”
A fight that had to happen
Boxing trainer and pundit Gary Logan believes that, regardless of Buatsi and Azeez previously being friends and sparring partners, they were on an inevitable collision course.
“I half-wish this fight wasn’t happening because these are two men that I absolutely love as characters, as people, men of substance,” Logan said.
“But it has to happen because they’re in the midst of arguably the best light-heavyweight era that I can remember in Britain in a long, long time. This fight has to happen.”