“War. Pain. Victory.”
That’s what European champion Franck Petitjean is promising to deliver when he fights Adam Azim on Saturday night.
Petitjean puts his belt on the line when he boxes Azim at The Halls in Wolverhampton, live on Sky Sports from 7pm.
His warning for the rising star was clear. Azim’s time may come, but the Frenchman was adamant it won’t be now.
“He’s the new prospect. There’s a lot of people out there who want him to be like Amir Khan,” Petitjean told Sky Sports.
“I hope he will have a good career. But he’s never met someone like me. I’ve had a lot of fights abroad, Turkey, Senegal, Holland, Poland, Denmark and I love war. It doesn’t matter to me.
“I’m the champion,” Petitjean continued. “He has to come, he has to show that he has enough to be a European champion.
“I think the second part of the fight is going to very difficult for him. It’s going to be my fight.”
He has every intention of dragging Azim into a battle and grinding him down. Petitjean doesn’t feel like a man risking his championship. Instead he feels like a fighter with another victory to gain.
“I think he’s going to have big pressure,” he said of Azim.
“I have nothing to lose,” he continued, before adding darkly: “I love this game.”
Petitjean, though the reigning champion, has experienced defeat before. That’s something Azim, who’s only had nine pro fights before this, simply cannot contemplate.
“He’s going to know the speed and the power, he’s not going to come forward to me,” Azim told Sky Sports. “He knows what it feels like to lose as well. He’s going to have that mindset where he doesn’t want to lose again. Saturday night I’m going to make him lose again.”
If Azim is victorious in this, only his 10th professional contest, he will become the fastest Briton to win the European championship, beating Spencer Oliver’s record.
Yet even though he’s had so few bouts, he believes he’s already beaten a higher standard of opposition than Petitjean has in the latter’s long career.
“Every boxer’s going to talk. They have to big up the fight, it’s part and parcel anyway. He’s old. He’s been around, in the game quite a long time. But I don’t think he’s fought the fights that I’ve already fought. He hasn’t fought the calibre of opponents that I have,” Azim said.
“He had a good win in his last fight [when Petitjean upset Samuel Molina to win the title]. But he’s going to feel the power, the speed, everything.
“I think my standard of opposition has always been good. I feel like the calibre of opponents that he’s fought is not that great.”
Azim has gained experience with solid victories over Santos Reyes and Aram Faniian this year.
His promoter Ben Shalom is convinced those 10-round wins are exactly what Azim needed. He told Sky Sports: “I think because of those two fights we’re going to see a career best performance on Saturday night. I think he’s going to set the world alight.
“I think this is the moment that he deserves. A lot of fighters wanted to fight for this European belt. He got there first, he deserved to get there first. He’s doing things that no one else is doing at 21 years old.
“Where’s the next British superstar? For me Adam Azim is right at the top of that list and he’ll be looking to prove that on Saturday night.”
Azim believes he can handle any approach Petitjean takes in the fight.
“If he comes forward it’s a big mistake. At the start if he comes forward it’s a truly big mistake. If he walks into one he’s definitely going to feel it,” the Slough fighter said.
“I don’t see what tactic he’s got to beat me. The only tactic he’s got is probably to get into my mindset but my mindset’s really focused.
“If you have a great mindset the fight will be good,” he continued. “I’m very focused, very, very focused.
“I want to show a great masterclass on Saturday night, it’s going to be Arturo Gatti versus Mayweather. It’s going to be like that.”
‘Poulsen won’t forget what I do to Petitjean’
If Azim is victorious, he could look to make a defence of the European title. The mandatory challenger would be Enock Poulsen.
Denmark’s Poulsen beat Petitjean over 12 rounds last year and he will be ringside in Wolverhampton to watch this championship fight unfold.
“He’s not going to forget what I do to Petitjean,” Azim said. “He took Franck Petitjean the full rounds so hopefully I’ll be the one to knock him out.”
Azim’s trainer Shane McGuigan pointed out: “It’s a big statement from us, pushing him this far so quickly.
“[Petitjean] is a southpaw, he throws good combinations and he’s very tough,” McGuigan continued. “It’s exactly the fight that we would need. It’s a great thing to be able to have a European title on the end of it.
“He’s got a way of getting through fights, Petitjean. I know that Adam’s going to hurt him. It’s whether he’s going to finish him or not. He has all the ingredients to be able to finish him.”
McGuigan does expect there “to be an element of risk” though.
“You’ve got to put yourself in the firing line,” McGuigan said. “To deliver your shots and look spectacular and knock people out, you have to stand there. He’s got plenty of that. He’s got plenty of heart.
“He’s going to need to that at some stage. He might not be able to outspeed everybody.
“End of 2024, early 2025 we’re fighting for a [world] belt. That’s the plan. We just need to go out there and execute it.”
Watch Franck Petitjean vs Adam Azim live on Sky Sports Main Event from 7pm