Veteran Petitjean Faces Rising Star Azim in High-Stakes EBU Bout

September 13, 2023
From: Spartacus

The landscape of European boxing is brimming with anticipation for an explosive encounter scheduled for November 18, when seasoned French pugilist Franck Petitjean will confront Britain’s prodigious rising star, Adam Azim. The European Boxing Union (EBU) made this announcement earlier today, with Wolverhampton, England, being the likely host for this high-stakes bout. With Boxxer set to promote the event and Sky Sports slated for its live broadcast, this clash promises to be a cornerstone in both fighters’ careers.

The road to this Petitjean-Azim showdown has been fraught with complexities, more intricate than a boxing strategist’s playbook. Earlier in April 2022, then-champion Enoch Poulsen narrowly defeated Petitjean in a 12-round unanimous decision. However, a refereeing oversight led Petitjean’s camp to formally protest the outcome. Upon review, the EBU mandated a rematch, upholding the Petitjean camp’s protest. Yet the rematch wasn’t to be, as both parties failed to reach an agreement. Consequently, Poulsen relinquished his title, albeit under the stipulation that he would have the opportunity to fight for it later.

Filling the void, Petitjean claimed the vacant title by edging out Samuel Molina in a majority decision over 12 rounds. When attempts to reconvene with Poulsen yet again led to an impasse, rumours began circulating that Wasserman Boxing was attempting to pit Petitjean against Harlem Eubank. However, these speculations failed to materialise into anything substantive.

In a sudden turn of events, Boxxer entered the scene, proposing a Petitjean-Azim contest. This proposition wasn’t without competition, as Matchroom Boxing desired their own contender, Dalton Smith, the current British and Commonwealth titleholder, to square off against Petitjean. Interestingly, Matchroom even extended an offer for a Smith-Azim bout, which ultimately fell through. After a series of deliberations, the EBU sanctioned Azim as Petitjean’s next opponent—with two conditions. First, the victor of the Petitjean-Azim clash must face Poulsen by February 2024. Second, they are obligated to confront Dalton Smith thereafter, without exception.

Franck Petitjean brings to the ring a wealth of experience with a professional record of 24-6-3, including 6 knockouts. Turning professional in 2010, the 35-year-old southpaw from Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine, near Paris, has seen both triumph and defeat. Despite losses against Mohamed Mimoune and Poulsen, both in unanimous decisions over 12 rounds, Petitjean has maintained an upward trajectory, most recently securing the European title against Samuel Molina.

On the flip side, Adam Azim presents a youthful yet menacing challenge. With a 9-0 record, including 6 knockouts, Azim turned professional in December 2020. Just last year, his promoter Ben Shalom declared him “the brightest talent in British boxing.” Known for his early knockouts, including three first-round stoppages, Azim recently displayed resilience and tactical depth in ten-round unanimous decisions against international competitors Santos Reyes and Aram Faniian.

The contrast in styles between the two fighters promises an engrossing contest. Petitjean, a seasoned veteran, favours a left hook and inside combinations—a technique that might put the speed and agility of Azim to a rigorous test. Furthermore, Petitjean’s extensive experience, with over four times as many fights as Azim, could provide him with a tactical edge.

Beyond individual stakes, the fight has broader implications for European boxing. Should Azim emerge victorious, he would bring the 140lb EBU title back to the UK for the first time since 2017. As it stands, Britain currently holds three of the 28 available male and female EBU titles, thanks to commendable performances by Jay Harris, Liam Davies, and Thomas Essomba. With fighters like Gavin Gwynne and Tyler Denny eyeing European titles and several female athletes lining up their own title challenges, 2023 could be a defining year for British boxing.

So, will Petitjean’s amassed experience be enough to halt the meteoric rise of Azim, or will the young British fighter continue his ascension towards global stardom? The world will be watching on November 18.

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