Some fighters are late-bloomers or unexpected successes. Boxers you hadn’t expected much from who go on to surprise you. Then others are like Adam Azim. From the moment he picked off Ed Harrison with low-handed, arrogant brilliance on his professional debut, you could tell the then-teenager had something special.
After outscoring Harrison at Production Park Studios in South Kirkby, a concession to the COVID-era nature of the sport, Azim would knock out every opponent he faced for the ensuing three years. Two out of Adam’s last three opponents managed to take him the distance, but neither man won more than two rounds on any judge’s scorecard.
This impressive ten-fight career leaves no mystery surrounding why Azim is an overwhelming 1/12 favourite to beat Enock Poulsen, his next opponent. ‘The Assassin’ defends his European super lightweight title against the Dane at Wembley, on the undercard of Joshua Buatsi vs Dan Azeez on Saturday.
Poulsen might only be a 6/1 shot but he has pedigree at this level. He carries a 14-0 record into the bout, albeit with a light five knockouts. The Zambia-born Dane is also a former holder of Azim’s title. In fact, both he and Azim beat the same man to capture the European super lightweight strap.
Poulsen defeated Franck Petitjean by unanimous decision to lift the vacant title in April 2022. The new champion was then forced to vacate his newly-won hardware due to illness, with his malady leaving him unable to complete a mandatory defence. This opened the door for Petitjean. The defeated Frenchman beat Samuel Molina by majority decision to annex the vacant European gold.
Azim then knocked out Petitjean in ten rounds in November 2023 to win his first major professional title. Quite understandably, Poulsen feels he should still be the champion. In the Danish star’s eyes, Azim should never have had his title opportunity in the first place. Now, Poulsen gets a chance to prove it in the only place it matters: the boxing ring.
How likely is Poulsen to see that belt again? Not very, if we’re honest. He’s nimble, an adequate technician and he typically fights on the front foot. But Poulsen lacks power and is unlikely to pin Azim down with volume. The Brit is a defensive puzzle box, avoiding punches and conventional wisdom with an artful dodge. Poulsen throws a good jab and a nippy straight right, but how likely is he to land either on an opponent who refuses to stand still?
Poulsen’s tendency to try and dictate the action will play right into Azim’s hands. He’s a counter-puncher extraordinaire. Look for Azim to keep matters at a distance at first, before unleashing the heavy artillery down the stretch. Poulsen is a talent but the levels here are very different. The Dane’s conventional style is an ill-fit for Azim’s improvisational brilliance.
It is for this reason that I am opting for an Azim stoppage between rounds 10-12, priced at 5/1. Poulsen isn’t coming to lay down. He is proven at European level and has never lost a professional bout. This will keep him in the fight even if it is unlikely to be close. However, once Azim works him out and finds his range, he should be able to retain his title with a stoppage in the championship rounds.
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