Eddie Hearn wants Mairis Briedis vs. Lawrence Okolie unification
By Charles Brun: Eddie Hearn wants to put together a unification fight between newly crowned WBO cruiserweight champion Lawrence Okolie (16-0, 13 KOs) and IBF champion Mairis Briedis (27-1, 19 KOs) next.
Hearn doesn’t want to have Okolie take on any of the other cruiserweight champions because he feels this is the best time for him to face Briedis, who is seen as the #1 guy.
Okolie looked sensational last Saturday night, stopping former cruiserweight champion Krzysztof Glowacki (31-3, 19 KOs) in the sixth round at the Wembley Arena in London UK.
The performance by the 28-year-old Okolie was good enough for Hearn to believe that it might be a waste of time for him to bother trying to become the undisputed cruiserweight champion if he beats Briedis next.
Hearn says Okolie likely weighed near 225 bs for the fight with Glowacki, and he thinks it could get harder for him to make the 200-lb limit if he stays at cruiserweight much longer.
Okolie may move up to heavyweight after Briedis
“I want Breidis,” said Eddie Hearn to iFL TV about what he wants next for Lawrence Okolie. “I’ve been talking to Lawrence and Shane [McGuigan] and they want that fight. Kalle Sauerland Tweeted about it.
“I can’t see why we can’t make that fight. There is an argument about going and picking up the other belts, but everyone is dangerous, aren’t they? Ilunga Makabu is dangerous.
“Arsen Goulamirian is dangerous, but Briedis, I think he’s more dangerous than those guys, and he’s really the king of the division, isn’t he? So go after him.
“I don’t think that Lawrence has got years and years at cruiserweight, so let’s try and get the belts ASAP. I guess if you beat Briedis, you really don’t need to fight the other champions, do you?
“Because you completed it, and then you move to heavyweight. But I don’t see Briedis beating him, honestly.
“I know Briedis is a great fighter, and it’s hard not to get carried away. But how do you beat Lawrence Okolie? It was a wonderful performance and really exciting,” Hearn said.
If Okolie does beat Briedis, he might as well move up on the spot because he will have beaten the #1 guy in the cruiserweight division.
For Okolie to invest a year of his career fighting Arsen Goulamirian and Ilunga Makabu, it’s pointless.
There’s not enough interest in the boxing public in seeing Okolie fight those guys, who are both basically just belt-holders.
Okolie barely clinched
“When you get a world champion that you feel can beat everyone in the division, it’s an amazing feeling, and that’s what I feel after tonight,” said Hearn about Okolie’s win over Glowacki.
“The future is very exciting for ‘The Sauce’ [Okolie]. He’s had his share of criticism over the years where he’s stepped up for occasions that were before his time.
“Six rounds, how many clinches were there? Four or five? His feet were outstanding, his boxing skills were great, his power was unbelievable.
“He’s done it, he’s become world champion in 16 fights, and I see him cleaning up the whole division. I think there’s so much more to come from Lawrence but was so composed.
“He was so assured, I think it was brilliant. I couldn’t believe Glowacki took that shot [in the fourth]. He took about five or six.
“I know how hard Lawrence hits, everybody knows how hard Lawrence hits, and I was really impressed with Glowacki taking those shots.
“Lawrence just said to himself, ‘Stay calm, this guy knows what he’s doing.’ The last one was an absolute peach, right down the pipe.
“Glowacki, you still get people saying, ‘Glowacki is coming to the end of his career.’ Glowacki is a two-time world champion.
“He’s an elite cruiserweight, but he just got absolutely demolished. He got beaten, and he didn’t lay a glove on Lawrence Okolie.
“And he got outboxed, out-skilled, and beaten up knocked out. It was a stunning victory,” said Hearn.
Okolie didn’t have to hold against Glowacki because nothing was coming his way. Glowacki, 34, looked timid, throwing almost nothing, and there was nothing for Lawrence to worry about.
We’ll likely finally see if Okolie has improved in the area of holding when he gets in there with Mairis Briedis.
If Okolie is able to keep from holding nonstop against him, that would show that he’s a different fighter now. But until then you have to suspect that he’s still a hugger.
The last time Okolie fought a quality fighter still in his prime was against Yves Ngabu in October 2019, and he did a lot of clinching in that fight.
Lawrence to take over for Joshua?
“No, because Lawrence has still got another year or so at cruiserweight, and when he moves up maybe one day AJ passes over the mantle and the titles to Lawrence Okolie, who knows?” said Hearn about Okolie moving up to heavyweight in the future.
“I would say Lawrence Okolie was 16 stone plus in the ring tonight, and he’s a monster,” said Hearn.
“You put a little more weight on him, you build up those legs a little bit, I think he’s going to be weighing in between 16 and 17 stone, which is as big as most heavyweights today.
“He’s just so hard to hit. I like the cruiserweight division. Yeah, heavyweight is inevitable for Lawrence Okolie.
“What we know about Lawrence is he can really punch, but tonight he showed his great feet, his great movement,” said Hearn.
Joshua has probably got another five or six good years left before he starts fading, but you never know.
With Joshua’s size and power, he may be able to continue to fight at a high level for another 12 to 15 years, depending on how long he wants to stay around.
Wladimir Klitschko could have fought well into his 40s at a high level if he’d wanted to, but he chose to retire after making a lot of money in the sport. Joshua is different. He’s not someone that is going to walk away just because he made a fortune.
It’s possible that Okolie can win a title while Joshua is still around, but he cannot last as long as him. If Joshua sticks around for another 10 + years, he may invariably outlast Okolie.
If Okolie is going to take over for Joshua, he’ll need to move up to heavyweight soon because he’s going to take a while to build himself up.
Okolie is about to turn 29, and he’s not that much younger than the 31-year-old Joshua. Staying at cruiserweight for another two years trying to unify the division is a waste of time.
There’s less interest from fans in the cruiserweight division, and less money on top of that.
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