Adam Azim went 10 rounds for the first time in his career but ultimately took a dominant victory over Nicaragua’s Santos Reyes.
Azim was a shutout winner, 100-89 for all three judges, after putting Reyes down in the second round and controlling the contest throughout.
Azim has shot to prominence becoming one of the most exciting prospects in UK boxing as he brought style, speed and venomous punching to bear in his seven consecutive knockout wins leading up to this clash with Nicaragua’s Reyes.
In this bout though, he was taking on the first unbeaten opponent of his professional career.
“Starboy” Reyes raised an arm as he made a low-key entrance. Bouncing from foot to foot in his corner as he was announced, the Nicaraguan looked perfectly calm. Azim, in contrast, paced from side to side, eager to get to work with the crowd already roaring him on.
Reyes touched Azim to the body in the first round. But early on Azim was controlling the distance between them. He let his opponent’s jab fall short, then let Reyes swing at empty air before his own right blasted to body.
Twice Reyes took straight one-twos on his gloves and Azim redirected his attack back to the body.
Still Reyes kept that guard tight as a right hook clapped against his glove.
Azim’s breakthrough came in the second round. Reyes stepped forward and a right streaked in, hitting him flush on the chin. The force of that shot wobbled Reyes backwards and he toppled over.
But the game “Starboy” beat the count and held on to Azim in a clinch, making it through to the bell.
Reyes stuck to his defences in the next round, only opening up with a momentary flurry. In the fourth, Azim hit the body with a right, then a left hook. He jabbed high and scraped his right hook across Reyes’ stomach. He left then smacked into the head.
But he hadn’t dented Reyes’ determination entirely. The Nicaraguan jabbed to the chest in the fifth round, just to get a grip on the distance himself. For a moment he beckoned Azim in with his left. He allowed himself a smile, as he denied Azim the early knockout that had been expected.
He hadn’t come close to winning the round though, as Azim finished the fifth uncorking right hooks.
Reyes kept a strained smile on his face in the closing stages of the sixth round. By going into the seventh he had taken Azim further than any previous opponent had managed.
Azim landed a huge right uppercut, a countering shot, that Reyes had to swallow. He teed off with left hooks and in a clinch turned to his corner to nod as he received an instruction from coach Shane McGuigan.
Reyes stayed resolute and stabbed in his left to land his best shot of the fight.
He didn’t disrupt Azim’s dominance. In the ninth round, Azim edged back and blasted his right in as soon as he saw Reyes’ defence open up.
He continued to work at Reyes in the 10th and last round, hammering a left hook into his head and repeating that shot to shake up the Nicaraguan.
Reyes leaned back underneath a right cross. But he was undeterred. He finished throwing shots, that Azim slipped easily but that saw Reyes through to going the full distance.
What they said
Adam Azim on Sky Sports:
“There’s an earthquake going on. I’d like to take a moment to say that my heart goes out to them.
“I rate my performance, probably like an eight out of 10. He was very tough.
“After the first shot I landed on him and he dropped, I thought he was gone.
“I landed that right on the button.”
Trainer Shane McGuigan on Sky Sports:
“It was definitely what we wanted.
“We got a knockdown, he got rounds, he got experience. He got a guy that had a tight guard and pushed him back.
“He learnt how to pace the rounds as well, so these are all the things we’re doing in the gym but actually got to showcase on the live stage.”