With one side of one of Britain’s dream fights about to box this weekend, the other is observing Ramadan. 

Sheffield’s Dalton Smith takes on Jose Zepeda on Saturday at the Sheffield Arena as the British and Commonwealth super lightweight champion looks to make a dent on the international scene for a vacant WBC silver title.

He and European champion Adam Azim have been summoned to face one another but, for now, they appear to be on different trajectories, even if fight fans hope their paths ultimately cross. 

“He’s got Ramadan at the moment,” said Azim’s trainer, Shane McGuigan. “He’s at that stage of his career where he’s going to start being in big fights with being European champion, and they also want to push him. He’s not a Ben Whittaker where he wants to just build up his record, shaking his shoulders, he wants to win fights through his fists and through decent competition, and he knows that’s what’s going to build his fanbase.

“With his [Azim’s] ADHD, he’s quite quiet and people want headlines, reels and showcases and all that stuff, so we know we’re going to have to be in decent, competitive fights but build his record up slowly and with slightly harder tests each time. He won’t be boxing as regularly, probably he’ll be boxing four times this year, so if we go summer, September and December, something like that, that’s the plan.”

Azim, 11-0 (8 KOs), last boxed in February, when Denmark’s Enock Poulsen suffered a shoulder injury and could not continue beyond the fifth round. Subsequently, there have been talks to match Azim with Wasserman’s Harlem Eubank, but it appears they have broken down. 

“We’re looking at options right now,” McGuigan added. “There’s a couple of American fighters we’re looking at. We asked Harlem Eubank if he was interested in the fight and they were interested and then they decided they wanted the fight up at welterweight, which was quite disappointing as we got quite far into negotiations with them. 

“But it looks like it’s off now, because it looks like he wants the contest at welterweight. We even got as far as meeting [Chris] Eubank Sr. the other week, and even though he spent his whole career at 140, now he decides he wants to be a 147. That’s disappointing, because that’s the sort of fight we’d like, a sort of breakout fight which gets people’s attention. It’s a name, and it’s competitive.”

Azim and Eubank, 19-0 (8 KOs), garners interest, but there is a real appetite for Azim to face Smith, even at this early stage of their careers, and it is one McGuigan can see happening, but not as soon as the fans might like.  

“Of course that’s a fight we’re interested in, for sure,” the trainer said of Azim-Smith. “I just know that the numbers that have been put out and I think Harlem Eubank vs. Adam Azim, with Eubank Sr. being part of the build-up, that’s just what boxing’s about at the moment. I think it would draw a lot of attention, and now the only attention that’s going to be drawn to that fight [Azim-Smith] is Eddie Hearn trying to mug off Adam Azim, because Dalton’s a nice lad, very respectful. It’s a great, competitive fight, it’s just they’re on different platforms. Both are going to try and bid for it, I just don’t think it’s the right timing.”

Azim is only 22. He has time on his side, and Hearn said that if the Smith fight could not be agreed, he would like to pair the fast fists of Azim with the quick hands of 4-0 (3 KOs) Cameron Vuong.

“He's just desperate to put someone in against him, which is quite funny, because it’s typical Eddie, but we’re going to keep doing our thing and we will have a big fight for Adam Azim, that’s the most important thing,” said McGuigan.