Lawrence Okolie is back for the first time in 13 months as he faces unbeaten mandatory challenge, David Light. ‘The Sauce’ aims to make a third successful defence of his WBO World cruiserweight title, with some potentially huge fights on the horizon for the Londoner this year.
Lawrence Okolie’s name has been talked about an awful lot this past year. Usually that would be a good thing, meaning he has performed well in the ring, that he is set to have a huge fight, or something along those lines. However, this hasn't been the case - the unbeaten cruiserweight has been in the headlines regarding his contract with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing. It all got a little nasty. Without going into much more detail, it seems to have been sorted following an official legal dispute.
Okolie will now fight on Sky Sports in a new deal with Ben Shalom and Boxxer. Okolie’s rise through the ranks was quite spectacular, with the Hackney man now widely regarded as the best cruiserweight on the planet.
Up to now, Lawrence Okolie’s rise has been meteoric. Prior to this improvement, one monotonous bout followed by another made his fights very difficult to watch. When Okolie was about to fight you nipped off to the bar for a pint or went and put the kettle on and made some toast. But not anymore. In fact, quite the opposite.
In Lawrence Okolie you have a man who has risen to the top of his division in what feels like a click of the fingers. Having captured the Commonwealth, British and European titles in just 14 fights and with just over 30 months as a professional boxer, ‘The Sauce’ still left an awful lot to be desired before fans were convinced he could make it at world level.
It was then that he began his relationship with trainer Shane McGuigan. Under the tutelage of McGuigan, Okolie has gone from strength to strength. He looks like a fighter re-born. More hungry, more emphatic, more eye-catching and more appealing - it has all gone swimmingly since the pair started working together back in late 2019.
Okolie was last in a ring in February 2021, when he beat Polish bogeyman, Michal Cieslak, by unanimous decision. He showed something different in this fight. Not only did the 30-year-old show he can go the distance; he showed more variety in his punches, showcasing that he wasn’t only a big brute of a power-puncher.
Okolie’s next test against David Light is an intriguing one. It is two unbeaten 200-pound men going at it for the WBO World cruiserweight crown. Light has worked his way up to 20-0, becoming the WBO’s mandatory challenger in the process. That is how he’s earned this shot at Okolie. Many people think this could be the Londoner’s last year as a cruiserweight, with the hope of unifying the division before moving up in weight. Standing at 6”5 tall, Okolie is a big lump of a man and certainly looks like he has all the attributes to one day step up into the glorified heavyweight division.
As we have already stated, David Light is the mandatory challenger to Lawrence Okolie’s cruiserweight throne. He is the number one ranked cruiserweight in New Zealand, as well as being on the brink of the world's top 10. The Kiwi has some credible names on his resumé, particularly in his last few fights. Yes, this is a huge step up for Light. However, he will certainly be confident in pulling off the upset, here, on UK shores.
In boxing circles, it is clear to see that people think Okolie will get the job done on Saturday night. The bookmakers are in total agreement, with Okolie seen as a heavy favourite with the majority of outlets. The challenger can be backed at a price of around 7/2, with Okolie priced at around 1/6.
The talk from Team Okolie is that his time is limited at cruiserweight and that sometime in the not so distant future a move up to heavyweight is inevitable. However, with David Light to take care of first on Saturday night, ‘The Sauce’ cannot afford to take his eye off of the immediate job in hand.
The unifications with Opetaia, Makabu or Goulamirian may well come in the next 12 months Greatness could be on the horizon for Okolie, but that cannot even cross his mind at this moment in time. He can’t even contemplate his next move or the next step in his career before he handles business on Saturday night, and takes care of the New Zealander in what he hopes will be in impressive fashion.
Saturday night at the Manchester Arena promises to deliver a great evening of boxing, headlined by this colossal cruiserweight clash between Lawrence Okolie and David Light. A great fight for our viewing pleasure.
Lawrence Okolie (18-0, 14 KOs)
Michal Cieslak - WIN - UD (116-111, 117-110, 115-112)
Dilan Prasovic - WIN - KO Round 3
Krzysztof Glowacki - WIN - KO Round 6
Nikodem Jezewski - WIN - TKO Round 2
David Light (20-0, 12 KOs)
Brandon Glanton - WIN - SD (95-94, 97-92, 94-95)
Vikas Singh - WIN - KO Round 2
Anthony Martinez - WIN - KO Round 1
Mose Auimatagi Jr - WIN - UD (100-89 x3)
Date: March 25th 2023
Time: Approx. 10.30PM Ring Walk (GMT)
Venue: Manchester Arena, Manchester, England, UK
Promotor: Ben Shalom/Boxxer - Sky Sports
Official Fight Night Poster (Photo: Boxxer)
Elsewhere on this stellar undercard, heavyweight contender Frazer Clarke takes on Rydell Booker, with Michael Gomez Jr also in action against Levi Giles for the English Super-Featherweight Title. Karriss Artingstall also fights for the first time this year as she makes her third professional walk to the ring in a featherweight contest against Linzi Buczynskyj.
Sam Antwi, Aaron McKenna, Rhys Edwards, Callum Simpson and Harvey Lambert are some of the other names on the bill looking to all get wins as the A side in 'keep busy' fights.