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Shalom: Azim vs Smith can be ‘absolute monster’ fight

Adam Azim against Dalton Smith can become an “absolute monster” of a fight, but Harlem Eubank is the “right” option next for the 21-year-old rising star, says Boxxer promoter Ben Shalom.

Mandatory title commitments had pushed Smith forward as a potential next opponent, but Azim will first face Eubank as he builds towards a marquee showdown with his Sheffield rival.

Azim and Eubank faced off in the ring ahead of Frazer Clarke and Fabio Wardley’s epic British heavyweight title clash at the O2 on Sunday, with the pair in ‘advanced talks’ ahead of a prospective clash.

Fans have made no secret of their desire to see Azim and Smith meet in a battle of two of Britain’s brightest talents, but Shalom believes Eubank represents the appropriate fit for The Assassin at this point in his development.

“When looking at the options, as Adam Azim’s promoter and somebody who has to stand in front of the mirror and know I did my best for somebody, I have to look at the options,” Shalom said on the Toe2Toe podcast.

“I think the Harlem Eubank name and fight, at this stage of his career which is still very early on, is the right decision.
Dalton Smith is a phenomenal fighter.

“For the real boxing fan, I get why Adam against Dalton is so mouth-watering, we all want it to happen.

“But the same reason I feel Dalton Smith wants to fight Adam, perhaps for his profile, might be the same reason we’re looking at Harlem and thinking it’s the right fight for Adam.

“The fight is going to happen, it’s inevitable, it’s our job to make sure it’s the right time for Adam Azim.”

The highly gifted Smith, 27, recently extended his perfect professional record to 16-0 as he knocked out Jose Zepeda in the fifth round to win the vacant WBC Silver light-welterweight title.

Azim is meanwhile 11-0 as a professional after his fifth-round stoppage win over Enock Poulsen to retain the European light-welterweight title he had captured against Franck Petitjean. Azim is set to vacate his European belt ahead of a contest against Eubank.

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Adam Azim says he fully expects to fight Dalton Smith at some point, but admits he will let his team organise his immediate future

“He is managed by the McGuigans, they are extremely experienced,” said Shalom. “Ultimately, it’s one of those scenarios that I hope, like the Frazer Clarke situation, we look back and say ‘we did the best for our fighter, but still delivered the fight’ and that happens and it’s the biggest it can possibly be for both.

“Dalton is a phenomenal fighter, but who was he fighting in his 11th professional fight and at 21 years old?

“We do care about what the fans think. On the Frazer Clarke situation I took more flack than I could have imagined and he’s just boxed in front of 700,000 people.

“He (Azim) in his 12th professional fight and in any other circumstance he should be credited for taking Harlem so early on, a guy who hasn’t been beaten and many people will fancy.

“I think Adam Azim and Dalton Smith down the line will be an absolute monster.”

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Adam Azim retained his European title after Enock Poulsen collapsed in pain following a dislocated shoulder in the fifth round

For now, Eubank beckons as another valuable test in the career of Azim as he enters the fight 19-0 (eight KOs) after a stoppage victory over Timo Schwarzkopf last time out.

“For me it’s the right fight for Adam,” Shalom explained. “We’ve seen with Frazer Clarke and some fights need a little time to become as big as possible.

“There aren’t many rivalries in this sport, especially domestic rivalries, where you have a chance to sell out stadiums and to go on Box Office and do what you dreamed of.

“I mentioned Adam’s age, because if you want to try and fight Adam and you’re going to want to get him as young as possible.”

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Relive Adam Azim’s spectacular 2023, which saw the rising star pick up three wins as he became the European champion

Beyond that, an encounter between Azim and Smith potentially awaits as one of the most highly-anticipated bouts in British boxing.

“I do get it, but I think for his development and his career and his breaking into the mainstream and looking at where Ben Whittaker is at, he’s five or six years older than Adam, and I think Adam needs this fight that the casual fans can get interested in,” Shalom continued.

“When this opportunity came up, you’ve got Chris Eubank Sr and the history with the McGuigans, you’ve got a 30-year-old who is 19-0 and also wants his moment. It’s about Harlem Eubank as much as it is about Adam Azim.

“He’s worked so hard to get to where he is, he’s almost had to be under the shadow of Chris Eubank Jr for all his career, has come on well and built a name for himself.

“It’s a crossroads fight for both, I believe it’s the right fight.”

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