BBN caught up with amateur star Dan Azeez on the eve of his professional light heavyweight debut. Prior to making his cross over into the paid ranks we talked about his amateur career, boxing inspiration and also his ambitions forthe future.
What made you want to start boxing?
“Two things, one was watching highlight reels online, I used to watch fighters like Roy Jones Jr and David Haye, I used to think, how can they make it look this good its like an art form,
I decided that I wanted to do something like this so I went down to my local gym, Colchester ABC and thought I could be good at boxing as I used to play football and run so I’m quite athletic,
They put me in with someone much younger than me and half my size, he schooled me, so this made me think I wanted to learn the sport and learn the craft, I saw it as a challenge and wanted to get to a level where I was able to handle myself in the ring.”
Who was your boxing hero growing up and why?
“Probably Roy Jones Jr, due to his athletism, his skill, and pure ability, also Muhammad Ali for the stuff he did outside of the ring, the way he talked and was percieved, I used to watch his interviews and think he was a genuis, I really used to look up to him.
I also loved Mike Tyson for his raw style and knockouts, I used to find the way he was brought up and his lifestyle interesting.”
How old were you when you had your first fight and how did you do?
“I was 19, and I lost, I thought I was Roy Jones jr, I quickly realised that’s not my style, not everybody could be like him, I then learnt the fundamentals of boxing really quickly.”
How well did you do in the amateurs?
“Yeah I did fairly well to be honest, for someone who took it up quite late.
I had about 60 amateur boxing bouts, I won the Haringey box cup, Portugal’s Odivelas box cup, and I was South of England champion 3 times and quarter finalist twice, even ranked in the UK top ten a few times”.
What made you decide to turn pro?
“I wanted to get the amateur pedigree before turning pro, also I reckon I’ve got more of a pro style, I think I have done my aprentiship as an amature and It’s now time to make a living out of what I love to do”.
What team do you have around you?
“I'm trained by Brian O'Shaughnessy, I also train with Lawrence Okolie and Umar Sadiq, and there’s a few other guys as well amongst rising prospects and amatuers.”
Are you full-time as a pro?
“I am still working, I get my training in when I can, but obviously the end goal is to be able to earn enough in boxing for me to not have to work.
At the start it’s a hard grind but I’m relishing the challenge!”
What sort of fighting style do you have?
“Im not a brawler but probably an aggressive come forward kind of style….Marvin Hagler!”
What ambitions do you have for your pro career?
“Everybody wants to reach the pinnacle of the sport, win titles, get to the top and box at world levels,
This is my ambitions, but one thing that stands out for me is that I want to be in good fights, fights that people remember for years, I want to be rembered by the public, for great fights.
Be entertaining for the fans and put on good shows! I don’t want to be a boring fighter, I just want to be entertaining and give the fans their money’s worth.”
When is your first fight and who will be there in support?
“Saturday the 2nd of December on the MTK London’s ‘Pride and Glory’ event.
I’ve got loads of supporters, a lot of them are supporters from my boxing gym, people from Essex University, locals, friends, family, so yeah I’ve got quite a few people coming down and watching me so hopfully it will be a great night!”
Dan would like to thank Lee Eaton at MTK, his trainer Brian O'Shaughnessy, all the Kool Box team at the gym and everybody who has supported him and all those who have brought a ticket to come and watch.