Joshua Buatsi must get past Dan Azeez before he can think about Dmitry Bivol

Joshua Buatsi is closing in on his dream of fighting for a world championship. The 30-year-old Londoner has some business to tend to first, however.

Buatsi (17-0, 13 KOs) is scheduled to face fellow 175-pound contender Dan Azeez (20-0, 13 KOs) on Saturday at OVO Arena Wembley in London (Peacock).

The fight is being billed as a WBA title eliminator. That means the winner will be first in line to challenge titleholder Dmitry Bivol, although Bivol is in talks to face Artur Beterbiev for the undisputed championship.

“It’s showtime,” Buatsi said. “It’s time to see who’s number one. There’s nothing else to do but to fight, to see whose hand will be raised at the end of it. And that’s all I’ve worked for, and that’s what I’m looking forward to.

“We’re almost there, and on Saturday we’re going to see what’s up.”

Buatsi, a native of Ghana, has taken part in big events. He won a bronze medal for Great Britain in the 2016 Olympics. And he has had high profile fights as a pro, including a one-sided decision over Pawel Stepien last May.

However, his meeting with Azeez could be both his toughest test and most important fight.

He’ll have no chance of fighting for a world title – at least in the near future – if he slips up against Azeez, who will be taking a significant step up in opposition Saturday.

“It’s a final eliminator for the WBA world title so of course that’s the aim,” Buatsi said. “I want to fight for the world title next. But right know, all I’m focused on is beating Dan. It’s imperative that I win.”

Buatsi’s last two opponents (Craig Richards and Stepien) have gone the distance with him but he had demonstrated in previous fights that he has elite punching power.

Could he stop Azeez, who is a friend outside the ring? He doesn’t care either way.

“I’ve shown I can knock people out,” he said. “If the opportunity comes, I’m going to knock Dan out. Just because I know him doesn’t mean I’m going to hold back.

“I need to make sure I get the job done, and we can shake hands after.”

Story originally appeared on Boxing Junkie