Dan Azeez is confident he can make it a clean sweep of the domestic light-heavyweight titles when he challenges for the vacant British belt next month.
The 32-year-old from Lewisham will take on Hosea Burton for the domestic crown on November 20.
Crystal Palace’s Craig Richards, outpointed by WBA Super world champion Dmitry Bivol in May, relinquished the British strap.
And now Azeez gets another chance to step on to a bigger platform as his clash with Burton will be shown live by Sky Sports. The South Londoner is 14-0 as a professional but is still a free agent promotionally despite twice successfully defending the English title.
Azeez also shone in a six-round pasting of Charlie Duffield on a Matchroom Boxing show at Greenwich’s 02 in July 2019.
The performance impressed Matchroom Sport president Barry Hearn, whose son Eddie runs their empire.
“Barry came up to me afterwards and said: ‘Blimey, where have you been? You’re an exciting fighter and you’ve got the Eighties look with your high shorts – we’ll be in touch’”, said Azeez.
“But from there I don’t know why nothing happened. I had to just get my head down and work my way up the hard way. I’ve had no big promoters get involved with me but I leave that side to my management, MTK.
“It has been a surprise but now I’ve got this British title shot and I’m hoping it can elevate me where I want to get to.
“I 100 per cent deserve this fight. I’ve done it by climbing the rankings and I’ve won the Southern Area and English. This will be my third national title and means I can clean up domestically.”
Burton, 33, has a 26-2 record and was halted in the 12th round when he last challenged for the British belt against Frank Buglioni in 2016.
The Geordie dropped a unanimous points verdict to Ricards Bolotniks last year for the WBO European title but bounced back to knock out Liam Conroy in an eliminator to challenge for the British belt.
“He has operated at a decent level domestically but he has stayed at that level too long,” said Azeez. “I just feel it’s my time now, my chance now.
“He is a good boxer – tall, well-schooled and can crack a bit as well. It’s definitely my toughest fight to date. But I’m looking forward to having a good fighter put in front of me to win this title. I want solid names and to beat them, because that is how I leave my legacy.”
Azeez has been offered the free use of equipment at Woolwich gym Royal Resistance. He also trains and teaches classes at Studio 6 in Brentwood.
“Royal Resistance have got all the equipment I need, including a nice ring, so it is like another sponsorship,” said Azeez. “I can use it rent-free and it makes it easier for travel.
“I’d been working as a PT but for this fight I’ve managed to get a few sponsors, that means I can get my nut down and get on with the job at hand. Unless you are in the top 10 per cent of boxers then you can’t normally just wait for your next purse [and not work].”
Azeez is not mapping out any long-term plans beyond Burton.
“Me and my trainer both say the same thing – a step at a time. Wherever I end up, I end up.
“If I get the British title and there are good fights for me to defend it then we’ll do that.
“I’ve done this step by step – I got the Southern Area and then I got the English. The next step is the British.
“Whatever is next, I’m game – as long as I’m in exciting fights that everyone enjoys.”
PICTURE: KEITH GILLARD
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