Sports

Andre Ward and Chris Billam-Smith discuss Joshua Buatsi’s improvements since training under Virgil Hunter | Boxing News


Andre Ward says he sees “great things” in Joshua Buatsi after watching him in the gym ahead his fight with Dan Azeez.

Buatsi, the No 1 ranked light-heavyweight contender with the WBA, has been coached by Ward’s former trainer Virgil Hunter since 2021.

Buatsi has been training with Hunter in the USA ahead of Saturday’s showdown with London rival Dan Azeez on Saturday, live on Sky Sports.

Hunter oversaw Ward’s faultless career as the former Olympic gold medallist recorded 32 professional wins, 16 of them by knockout, and won world championships at super-middle and light-heavyweight before retiring unbeaten.

Buatsi has fought four times, taking his unbeaten run to 17 (13 of them inside the distance) under the guidance of Hunter, placing himself on the verge of challenging for a world title.

Having watched Buatsi at work in the gym, Ward can see the influence of his former trainer and is optimistic about the Croydon man’s development.

“I think he’s got a strong upside and I appreciate the way he approaches the game. He doesn’t cut corners,” Ward said of Buatsi.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Joshua Buatsi knows an Undisputed fight between Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol could create a world title opportunity and he cannot slip up against Dan Azeez

“He’s a great listener. There’s not a lot of fighters today at all different ages that actually have great work ethics and live like fighters. But he’s that guy. So I just appreciate that about him. When you are that type of person, you put yourself in position to have success,” Ward told the Toe2Toe podcast.

“So he’s got to continue to win. He’s obviously got to continue to sharpen up his style and become more fluid in his approach but I’ve seen a lot of growth in him.

“I’ve seen a lot of great things in sparring when I went to check him out and I’m just excited for his fight that’s coming up.”

‘Buatsi vs Azeez can’t be a bad fight!’

WBO cruiserweight champion Chris Billiam-Smith sparred with Buatsi before and after Hunter’s appointment to his team, and endorsed the trainer’s influence on the 30-year-old.

“He definitely improved [with Hunter], he added more to his game,” Billam Smith told Sky Sports.

“His inside work had improved, and carries the same power and sharpness as he always has. So Dan Azeez is an intriguing fight. Dan is constant, breaks you down and sometimes Josh looks flat on fight night, doesn’t look his best.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Dan Azeez believes he will walk away from the Joshua Buatsi fight with a win and the spectacle will be even bigger following the postponement from October

“Maybe he needs the bigger fights. Against Craig Richards he performed pretty well, against [Ricards] Bolotniks he performed pretty well,” he added.

“The likes of Dan Azeez is a make or break fight in terms of mentally if you can’t get up for that fight then you’re not going to get up for any fight. And if you can’t perform in that fight then you’re not made out for the big stage.

“I think he will perform on fight night and it’ll make for a fantastic fight. They’re both super tough, I’ve sparred them both, hit them flush, so tough.

“They’re only light-heavyweights, I’ve got a lot of weight on them and I’ve hit them flush and they’ve got superb chins. Can both punch, good work rate. It couldn’t be a bad fight.”

Watch Joshua Buatsi face Dan Azeez this Saturday live on Sky Sports Arena from 7pm and Sky Sports Main Event from 8.30pm



Source link