ESPN Boxing feature: Lawrence Okolie looks to step up to world champion status

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 26: Lawrence Okolie celebrates victory over Yves Ngabu during their European cruiserweight title fight at The O2 Arena on October 26, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

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British-Nigerian boxer Lawrence Okolie will be aiming to step up to world champion status when he faces Poland’s Krzysztof Glowacki for the vacant WBO Cruiserweight title in December at the O2 Arena in London.

Born in London to Nigerian parents, the 27-year-old is nicknamed ‘The Sauce’ and boasts an unblemished record as a professional, with 14 wins from as many fights, including 11 knockouts. He is the current European Cruiserweight champion, a belt he claimed in his last fight in October 2019 when he defeated Belgian Yves Ngabu with a TKO in round seven.


Not fighting for more than a year – primarily due to the coronavirus pandemic – will be the biggest break in Okolie’s career, but his opponent will have been out of the ring for even longer, with Glowacki’s last outing a controversial loss to Mairis Briedis which took place in the middle of last year.

“I am staying in some sort of shape but my opponent is in the same position, he hasn’t fought since June last year,” Okolie said. “The last time he was in the ring he was stopped and now he is getting in again with a big puncher, so we will see how that translates.

“This is his last opportunity. In his mind he is an experienced fighter and I haven’t boxed a world champion before, so he might see me as a soft touch. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was favourite. His only defeats were Oleksandr Usyk and Briedis and I think Briedis should have been disqualified [for an elbow not picked up by the referee]. That mishap has led to me fighting for a world title.

“I don’t take anything away from him as a fighter, he is very good, but that last fight must have been tough for him. I think I will stop him, legitimately. There is so much more to come from me. I have to pinch myself sometimes when I think I am fighting for a world title, but no one has seen the best of me yet.”

Okolie, who also represented Great Britain at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, is determined to make the most of the chance to become a world champion.

“This is all or nothing, I have been training my whole life for this first opportunity, so when I get it, I will make sure I take it,” said the British-Nigerian fighter. “It’s the world title, it’s not my first fight, this is the pinnacle of the sport.”

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