Dan Azeez: The Modern-Day Throwback Boxer Revitalizing the Sport
You can easily lose hope in boxing. The likelihood of landing on good or bad news has become analogous to the odds of landing on red or black on a roulette wheel, and the desire to keep spinning is as strong as ever.
I’m as guilty as any other fan when it comes to this. The more you get knocked down in boxing, the more determined you are to get back up, gritting your teeth through the pain and waiting for the next left hook to the solar plexus.
After a month of drug test fiascoes, super-fight mismanagement, and sanctioning body hypocrisy, I am a sucker for the Monte Carlo fallacy and believe that we are due a positive spin.
Maybe I’m being too hard on boxing, but this past weekend’s performance by British light-heavyweight Dan Azeez (19-0, 13KO) gave me a much-needed boost and reminded me of how wonderfully pure this sport can be.
The 33-year-old exudes the retro vibe of a 1970s fighter, turning heads on cards in smoke-filled halls to the approval of well-dressed spectators. Those in attendance likely scribbled “D. Azeez” on the back of their cigarette packs and buzzed about it in the bars after the bout. His ‘got gloves, will travel’ philosophy and his nod to the late great middleweight Marvin Hagler’s style make for a charming combination.
Azeez and his crew nearly had to cancel their trip because they forgot their gloves and their trainer, Buddy McGirt, misplaced his suitcase. You could be forgiven for thinking that something wasn’t right with the Finance and Accounting grad’s numbers if you took into account the fact that she didn’t make her weight requirement the first time around.
Although Azeez hasn’t had to travel nearly as far as “Marvellous,” he still lives by its tenets as he bobs and weaves across the United Kingdom in search of the illustrious and legendary path to domestic belt-collecting.
Azeez added the European title at 175 pounds to his growing collection on Saturday night in Paris, France, when he stopped Thomas Faure in the twelfth and final round of their title fight. Previously, Azeez had won Southern Area, English, British, and Commonwealth titles.
Azeez easily defeated a taller, lesser-known Frenchman, the second time that has ever happened to the British fighter. While the hometown fighter was understandably concerned about Azeez’s overhand rights throughout the fight, he can take some solace in the fact that he heard the bell signaling the beginning of the final round despite his bloodied nose and throbbing head and the fact that he almost lost his shield.
It ended on a very violent note. Referee Anssi Perajoki’s red card save for Faure capped off an outstanding performance on the road.
Even though Azeez was as big of a pre-match favorite as 1/16 (-1600), many other fighters of similar caliber have failed to make an impact at the European level in recent years. Moreover, they were not required to go to Paris as the “undercard” act.
Azeez has made a convincing case for why he belongs in the same conversations as the best light-heavyweights in the world, which is the next logical step on the ladder to world honors. His tent mate, Callum Smith, as well as Joshua Buatsi, Craig Richards, and Anthony Yarde will all have their own arguments. True enough.
But I’ll be by Azeez’s side whenever the time comes. The term “throwback fighter” has been criticized for its connotation of “old school,” “beatable,” and “on the verge of becoming a journeyman” — all of which are not flattering to the fighters themselves. In my opinion, it’s difficult to imagine a higher compliment.
Dan Azeez is all business all the time, and this dedication to his craft has made him a promising prospect for the sport of boxing. As a modern-day throwback boxer, he follows in the footsteps of greats before him. For those looking to place a bet on Azeez, be sure to consult a sports betting guide. The French victory he took on Saturday was just the beginning of what promises to be a remarkable career.