'The Sauce' vs 'Glowka'
Hackney boxing star Lawrence Okolie (15-0, 12KOs) is aiming to become Britain's next world champion on March 20 when he clashes with Poland's Krzysztof Glowacki (31-2, 19KOs) for the vacant WBO World cruiserweight title, live on Sky Sports.
There's been one false start already, following the former world champion Glowacki's positive COVID-19 test ahead of their first scheduled meeting for December 12 on the undercard of Anthony Joshua's return to UK soil against Kubrat Pulev. Instead, Okolie was offered undefeated Polish national champion Nikodem Jezewski (19-1-1, 9KOs), who was impressive on paper, but overwhelmingly underwhelming in person. The 29-year-old was down in the very first minute from a body shot and continued the trend right up to the early second-round exit.
It wasn't the best opponent to prepare for a world title shot, but Okolie says the experience was still worthwhile and beneficial to him, "It was interesting dealing with the pressure of knowing I am on the AJ-Pulev card, being the fight before he goes out, so dealing with the big occasion. That fight then almost became a final eliminator for the world title and I had to win the fight to maintain my ranking, so that was the main part in terms of dealing with the pressure."
The 28-year-old Londoner went on to praise his latest training camp despite the current restrictions many pro boxers are facing during these uncertain times, "No, everything’s been good. I’ve been able to carry on and keep training, which is lucky, although it has been boring not being able to go to the cinema and all that kind of stuff, but the main thing is that I keep going and remain focused.”
Managed by Anthony Joshua, Okolie begun boxing late but has acheived an incredible amount in such a short space of time. After just 15 fights in a vest, the youngster made it onto the Team GB squad, which culminated with him qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympics. Now, after 15 professional fights, he has again reached a landmark stage in his career where he challenges for a world title.
With a distinct lack of extensive experience, he reveals just how he perceives his journey, which consists of mostly learning on the job, "I just think it has been a never-ending camp leading up to this, It has always been the same since my first amateur fight. I just need to stay active, continue pushing and the fitness I have ahead of this fight is not just about this one date, but all of the camps I have had before so it is a continuation of all the work I have put in."
When you've been working like a dog, you should be sleeping like a log, according to John Lennon, which fortunately rings true for Lawrence, who has made sure that his much needed rest after a 'hard day's night' has been impeccable for him. He elaborated on his new and valuable sleeping arrangements, "I think it is important and I have done a bit of research on sleep myself, with the difference between 6-8 hours sleep, and obviously being a professional athlete, it is important that you get great sleep.
"I have been fortunate enough to work with a company called Levitex, who help me with a mattress and a pillow. They have all the expert research into how bed positioning helps me get to bed quicker, sleep for longer and feel safer and more comfortable. But outside of that I have been using other bits to help me go to sleep, such as glasses to take away blue light from gadgets for thirty minutes before I can go to sleep. So, it has been vital for my preparation."
Of his forthcoming task against Glowacki, he provided his prediction for the fight, "Ultimately, I just feel like whatever happens I am going to win; I feel good. You never know, he got knocked out in his last fight, so for the years he hasn’t fought the rest may have done him some good."
This will be Okolie's biggest fight but also the first behind closed doors, having performed in front of a small crowd in his last appearance in December. The consummate professional has already prepared for the strange scenario, however, "To be honest, I just will take it back to amateur boxing, so really it is just minor for me. Crowd or no crowd, or at home or away from home I just need to get into the ring and do my thing."
Joining Okolie and Glowacki on the March 20 card will be Commonwealth cruiserweight champion Chris Billam-Smith (11-1, 10KOs), who challenges for the British belt against English champ Deion Jumah (13-0, 7KOs); WBC World Female super-lightweight champion Chantelle Cameron (13-0, KOs) defends her green and gold belt for the first time to Puerto Rican challenger Melissa Hernandez (23-7-3, 7KOs); and the 'Welsh Wizard' Joe Cordina (11-0, 7KOs); Somalian-born star Ramla Ali (1-0); and heavyweight debutant Soloman Dacres are also in action.