It’s not the end of the year Lawrence Okolie wanted, but when the former European cruiserweight champion gets upset about things, he has done a superlative job not to let it show.
Okolie expected to fight for a world title on Saturday evening. He had waited 12 months for a fight with Krzysztof Glowacki for the long vacant WBO title. But when Glowacki failed a coronavirus test, the title fight was over. Okolie now faces another Polish opponent, Nikodem Jezewski.
« Instead of fighting for a world title, I have to win this fight to fight for a world title, » said Okolie. « So it’s a step back.
« It’s great to win titles and that, but in the end the most important thing is to get out there and fight and work on things that I was working on in training. If there is ring rust I will hopefully get rid of that and still get the win and keep the momentum. ”
The fight with Glowacki was originally discussed prior to the COVID lockdown. No wonder, then, when the topic on Okolie was broken it was done with a little fear.
« There’s a certain way my manager says I knew something was going on, » Okolie said. “He said, ‘Lawrence, how are you? Did you sleep well? “I had my COVID test done so I knew it was okay.
I said « what’s up? ». I did my COVID test, I was good, I didn’t see any girls. .
« It’s all torn to pieces. At first it was « he’s out but you have someone to fight » then « he didn’t want to fight ».
“The opponent changed quite late, so there was no let up in the camp. I have dealt with these situations as a professional and an amateur. Obviously it’s disappointing not to box for a world title, but in the end I still have a fight for victory and I am blessed to actually have a fight. ”
« As soon as the opponent changed, I started thinking about booking a vacation and I had to break away from it because nothing is really a foregone conclusion, » said Okolie. “I have to give him the greatest respect and then I should avoid a slip up.
“The most important thing is to win this fight and then the world title will be there. I see this as further steps in the right direction. “
One of the pluses for Okolie was doing another full camp coached by Shane McGuigan, who he teamed up with last year, which in his opinion made him a more dynamic boxer.
« He enjoys explosiveness and shoots on purpose, » said Okolie. “Of course I hit pretty hard. But he doesn’t like it when I tippy-type and throw a lot of punches.
« He would prefer if I threw fewer punches, much harder. I focused on that and on trust. I’m naturally confident, but on the night of a fight, standing there, throwing punches and then dodging is different. It will be interesting to see how that goes. ”
Although Okolie has gone to the Olympics and won a number of titles as a professional, it’s easy to forget that Okolie is quite inexperienced. But he’s made up a lot of time sparring, doing lots of rounds with Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury, Dillian Whyte and Joe Joyce. These boxers have given him some rave reviews.
« It’s great for my confidence, but it’s up to me to do it on fight night, » he said. « While I was training at this camp, when I was an amateur and I was fighting AJ and Dillian and all these guys, people would come up to me and say, ‘You’re going to go all the way. « . I don’t know if they say this to everyone, but I know if I can do this in sparring, I can do it in a fight.
« There is nothing I hate more than watching my fights and not being impressed. Forget what anyone can say on Instagram, I don’t take criticism from people. However, I can look at it for myself and say, « That was not a good thing and the choices I made there did that. « .
« I can blame the other person all day for the guy’s fear of my power. Ultimately, it’s up to me to make the right decisions. ”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for the boxing scene. He was a boxing correspondent for The Times, where he worked for four Olympic Games and numerous world championship bouts around the world from 2001 to 2019. He has been writing about boxing for a variety of publications around the world since the 1980s.
Lawrence Okolie, Boxing, Anthony Joshua, Eddie Hearn, Matchroom Sport, Kubrat Pulev, Tyson Fury, Krzysztof Głowacki, iFL TV
World News – GB – Okolie: The most important thing is To win, World Title Shot is here
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