Thursday , February 9 2023

Boxing: Lawrence Okolie vows to ‘DESTROY’ Glowacki on Saturday for the vacant WBO cruiserweight belt

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Lawrence Okolie has promised a destructive performance when he enters the ring for his first-ever world title fight on Saturday night.

The undefeated knockout artist will finally get his hands on Krzysztof Glowacki as the pair go toe-to-toe in a behind closed doors bout at Wembley Arena for the vacant WBO cruiserweight belt.

It brings an end to an arduous process for Okolie, who was originally set to fight Glowacki prior to the outbreak of coronavirus before their rescheduled clash on the undercard of Anthony Joshua‘s title defence against Kubrat Pulev was called off at the last minute, after his opponent tested positive for the virus.

The 28-year-old already has Commonwealth, British and European titles in his collection

Okolie now has the chance to finally claim the prestigious belt, though Glowacki, a former world champion, resembles a significant step up in competition.

Regardless, the 6ft 5in cruiserweight giant insists he is prepared for whatever comes his way.

‘I feel good,’ Okolie told Sportsmail. ‘I’m fit, strong and I’m in a really good place mentally. I’m ready to have a fight.

‘My preparation has gone well. It’s really just been the same as usual: running, doing weights – I feel really good.’

Coming into a fight of such magnitude, the 28-year-old recognises it’s the result, rather than the performance, that is ultimately paramount.

However, after extending his knockout streak to five on the bounce with a devastating performance against Nikodem Jezewski in December, ‘The Sauce’ has no intention of letting his run come to an end.

‘Any victory will do, but the plan is to win by knockout,’ he said. ‘I’m not going to do anything stupid, but my fight style will definitely match the words that I’m saying.’

Okolie now stands on the precipice of his greatest achievement in boxing to date, but remarkably the opportunity comes in only his 16th professional fight.

Okolie needed just two rounds to dispatch Nikodem Jezewski at Wembley Arena in December

With victory, he would equal his long-term sparring partner and now manager Anthony Joshua, who also won his first world title in his 16th fight, when he knocked out Charles Martin in two rounds back in 2016.

Astonishingly, when Joshua – who is only three years Okolie’s senior – was winning Olympic gold at the London Games in 2012, Okolie was working at McDonald’s and weighed 19 stone.

Okolie himself went on to reach the last-16 at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016 just three years after taking up the sport, and though he acknowledges his swift but gruelling journey will intensify the rewards of winning a world title, he insists Saturday is most certainly not the end of the road.

‘I’ve done what needs to be done,’ he said. ‘I’ve made sacrifices, changed my whole mindset and way of thinking and living.

‘It’s obviously going to make it sweeter, but I’ve still got so much left for me in the game, so I don’t think like that.

‘I’ve always set my goals as being a world champion and I’ve got so much in this sport that I want to achieve.

‘I’m looking to win on Saturday and then go straight into a unification fight, that’s just where I’m at mentally.’

Okolie represented Team GB in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, where he made it to the last 16

The Cruiserweight took up boxing only three years prior to his impressive Olympic display

Standing in Okolie’s way is the formidable figure of Glowacki, who has just two defeats in an otherwise impressive record, with his losses coming against former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, and current IBF champion Mairis Briedis.

However, Glowaki has also been out of the ring for nearly two years, with his last fight coming in his controversial stoppage defeat to Mairis Briedis in June 2019.

‘I’ll only be able to know after the fight (if that gave me an advantage), but I really hope not,’ Okolie said.

‘History does say ring-rust is real, especially as you get older, but there’s only one way to find out, and that’s by me going in and seeing what he’s made of.

‘He’s also had a year to prepare for me, so it’s a good opportunity for him to come back. I’ve heard him saying he wants to box Briedis again in a rematch, and I can’t be having that.

‘I can’t let that happen. So I’ll do what has to be done – I’m going to destroy him.’

Should he prevail on Saturday, Okolie will switch his focus towards Briedis, Arsen Goulamirian and Ilunga Makabu who hold the remaining IBF, WBA and WBC cruiserweight world titles respectively.

Yet, while cruiserweight domination is the immediate goal, Okolie is also targeting a move to the heavyweight division in the near future.

‘As long as I’m able to do what I do, win comfortably and win well, then I’ll move up to heavyweight,’ he explained. ‘But to be honest, I really just focus on one fight at a time, and eventually I’ll see.’

Tyson Fury destroyed Deontay wilder in his previous outingAnthony Joshua put in a composed performance with vicory over Kuvrat Pulev

Okolie does currently have an invested interest in the heavyweight division, however, with Eddie Hearn this week announcing that Joshua and Tyson Fury have agreed a £200million two-fight deal.

Okolie, who has sparred both fighters, was thoroughly impressed by both Fury’s stunning knockout win over Deontay Wilder and Joshua’s methodical breakdown of Kubrat Pulev.

‘It’s one of the biggest fights of our generation, so I’m very excited,’ he said.

‘Fury’s win over Wilder will go down in history. He beat an undefeated fighter, who is probably one of the hardest punchers we’ve ever seen in the heavyweight division.

‘And Joshua really showed his boxing IQ (in his win over Pulev).’

However, when it came to picking a winner, it required little thinking for the Hackney fighter.

‘I believe AJ is going to win,’ he said. ‘It’s not an easy fight, but it’s his physical strength and explosiveness.

‘With Wilder, Fury was able to manhandle him as he weighed so much more and he’s so much more talented as a boxer.

‘But with AJ, he’s got really good fundamentals and boxing IQ and he knows how to set his shots up. AJ’s going to be a bit too switched on and bullish for him. I think he’ll get to him.’

While Okolie’s world title fight is swiftly approaching, ‘The Sauce’ is also venturing into other avenues, with his new book ‘Dare To Change Yourself’ available for preview.

The cruiserweight also released his debut single ‘TKO’ on March 4, which will be his ring walk music on fight night.

‘I just wanted to have some fun during lockdown,’ Okolie explained. ‘I liked what I came up with and I use music in every aspect of my life, whether it’s training or my ring walks songs.

‘I just wanted to put a bit of my own sauce in it and just went with it.

‘I used it for my last fight, but I just hadn’t released it yet. For me, this is just a bit of fun. All of this boxing, I’m just rolling with it and seeing how far I can push it.’

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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