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Okolie vs. Cieslak: LIVE Results From London

Image: Okolie vs. Cieslak: LIVE Results From London

By BN24 Staff @ Ringside: Lawrence Okolie set the tone for his WBO cruiserweight world title defence with a big right hand hurting Michal Cieslak. Both were guilty of wanting to tie up when close in the first couple of rounds. It wasn’t pretty but it was a proper fight between two big cruiserweights. In the fifth, a one-two from Okolie caused Cieslak to lose his footing and score a knockdown. Cieslak responded in the seventh with his best round. The frantic pace in the first half of the bout slowed as it progressed.

For me, the champion was banking rounds. Despite tiring from the pace of the fight, both men attempted to attack and force the other to work at times. Two big right hands in the tenth confirmed Okolie’s decisive lead. Cieslak proved a worthy challenger but ultimately came up short. The champion deservedly retained his title via scores of 117-110, 116-111 & 115-112.

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Galal Yafai quickly showed he’s levels above Carlos Bautista, in particular with his southpaw backhand. He couldn’t miss with his powerful left hand and Bautista’s face was reddening and becoming swollen after just three rounds. The one-side beating continued until the fifth when Bautista was forced to take a knee following a barrage of rights and lefts.

The 2020 Olympic champion is expected to move quickly as a pro and with this debut win, claims a WBC regional flyweight strap.

Karim Guerfi settled nicely into his European featherweight title defence against Jordan Gill, the champion landing the flusher shots in round one. The challenger appeared the livelier in round two, but Guerfi’s shots landed with more force. An excellent fourth swung the pendulum Gill’s way. The fifth followed a similar pattern as Gill took charge of the fight. However, several flush rights snd lefts stunned Gill in the sixth. A left hook heavily dropped Gill in the seventh as he hung on. The champion pressed home his advantage in the eighth. Under constant pressure and heading for defeat, Gill summoned a right hand from the gods to knock Guerfi out with a shocking shot that stunned the crowd. A new champion is crowned by KO in round nine.

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Anthony Fowler was matched tough in his middleweight debut. Moving up in weight after his loss to Liam Smith, Fowler was matched with Lukasz Maciec. The fight livened up in the third as several hard rights rocked Fowler, despite the Liverpudlian boxing well throughout the first quarter of the clash. His constant punch output showed in the wear and tear on the Pole’s face. It was competitive yet Fowler was banking the rounds with his aggression and effective punching. He was winning the war of attrition against the tiring Maciec during the final rounds. Fowler took it by unanimous decision.

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Fabio Wardley made a patient start to his 10-round clash with the flat-footed Daniel Martz. As soon as the English heavyweight champion threw with some venom, the American wanted none of it. Wardley looked unimpressed as he stood over his downed foe who seemed to go down in instalments. Just seconds later he was able to land another combination that dropped Martz again. Thankfully, the one-sided contest was over when he failed to make the count. Wardley scores his twelfth consecutive stoppage with the win.

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Campbell Hatton started with intent landing clean shots to both head and body of Joe Ducker. Hatton relaxed and opened up in the second, with a big right hand and an uppercut hurting the journeyman. Blood began to flow from Ducker’s right eye by the fourth. Some of the body shots he was landing would have made his famous father very proud. In the sixth and final round, the Manchester lightweight stunned Ducker, leading to the referee saving him from any more punishment.

2020 Olympian Cheavon Clarke made a blistering start to his pro career. Setting up Toni Visic with body shots in the opener of their six-rounder to make his opponent drop his hands, Clarke then threw a blistering right hand to drop Visic. He repeated that trick in the second round and this time the Croat failed to beat the count.

John Hedges secured the first stoppage win of his short career in his fifth fight. In the fourth of six scheduled rounds, the referee saved the rugged Pole, Aleksander Nagolski from needless punishment as he began to wilt on the ropes.

Opening the preliminary broadcast, Australian heavyweight Demsey McKean whitewashed Ariel Bracamonte, 80-72, in a snoozer. The southpaw picked his punches well, but just couldn’t budge the stubborn Argentinian.

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Preview: The Sunday Night Spotlight Shines on Lawrence Okolie

This weekend, Matchroom Boxing returns to the O2 Arena in London as they present a Sunday night of world championship boxing, live on DAZN.

Thankfully, for the good of boxing fans, not choosing to clash with Josh Taylor vs. Jack Catterall on Saturday, means that we get a double dose of world title action on British soil.

The reigning WBO cruiserweight world champion, Lawrence Okolie (17-0) will look to defend his title against Michal Cieslak (21-1), remain undefeated, and take a step towards bigger fights with a win in his home city of London.

The 29-year-old has carved a journey of epic proportions. From humble beginnings of working at McDonald’s (a well-documented job placement that is mentioned every single time he ventures through the ropes) to capturing a world title, his is a real-life story that can inspire an entire generation of youngsters from England’s capital.

The 2016 Olympian has settled into life as a professional, navigating only minor bumps in the road since turning pro in 2017. Huge at the weight, once the 200-pound division is conquered, expect the champion from Hackney to move up to the sport’s marquee division.

Trained by Shane McGuigan, Okolie is heavy-handed with a huge reach and can be awkward to measure; conundrums none of his professional opponents have been able to conquer to date. ‘The Sauce’ sometimes appears rough around the edges, and his rawness belies his immense capabilities, but he has risen to every challenge. His full potential isn’t truly known yet.

Interestingly, Sunday’s main event isn’t Okolie’s first time headlining the O2. Back in 2018, under vastly differing circumstances, he battled local rival Isaac Chamberlain in just his eighth paid contest. The Daily Mail’s Jeff Powell’s scathing fight report stated that, “as a wrestling match, it would have been thrown out by the WWE,” as well as saying, “both men came into this ludicrously over-hyped nonsense unbeaten in their short careers but with their skills undeveloped by weak opposition.”

Okolie prevailed by decision, but more negative reaction soured his subsequent challenge for the British cruiserweight title.

In front of a massive global audience and a buzzing Wembley Stadium, Okolie and Matty Askin embarked on a sloppy and boring 12-round fight disguised as a wrestling match. Yet again, he left victorious, although his reputation had been dented by the booing public in attendance, as boxing fans pondered why Okolie deserved to be headlining at the O2 and boxing in prominent slots on Anthony Joshua pay-per-views events.

Since that night, however, the prospect-turned-champion has answered his critics in emphatic fashion. A procession of stoppage wins saw him add Commonwealth and European straps to his British belt. His stock rose considerably and a shot at a world title had been earned.

Last year, battle-hardened veteran and former holder of the WBO cruiserweight world title, Krzysztof Glowacki, ventured to Wembley Arena in hopes of claiming back his then-vacant old title belt. Alas, Okolie laid out the durable Pole with a massive right hand in the sixth round in what was his star-making performance. Sadly, it was in front of no fans due to the pandemic. The moment and championship crowning deserved so much more.

An easy knockout win at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium underneath the Joshua/Usyk fight leads the reigning champion to Michal Cieslak this Sunday night.

The Polish challenger’s best win came against Youri Kalenga – a respected fighter who held an interim cruiserweight belt – and Cieslak’s only loss was on points to the current WBC champion, Ilunga Makabu. Boxrec ranks the 32-year-old as a top-ten cruiserweight.

With 14 knockouts amongst his 17 wins, expect Okolie to add to that statistic on Sunday. He’s previously dropped and stopped foes with big right hands, body shots, counter rights, and counter left hooks. When he misses, he can look a little wild and sloppy, but when the punches connect – they knock people out.

Should he get the job done, many will hope that a long-talked-about unification clash with IBF champion, Mairis Briedis comes to fruition. Briedis’ upcoming April title defense vs. Jai Opetaia has been reportedly delayed by around 2-3 weeks due to the Latvian contracting Covid-19. Unfortunately, he seems more intent on landing a fight with the sport’s newest cash cow, Logan Paul, so don’t hold your breath on seeing Okolie vs. Briedis soon.

Topping the undercard is Jordan Gill’s bid for the European featherweight championship against Karim Guerfi. Their first scheduled date fell through after the four-time EBU titleholder pulled out. Gill, a silky and skillful featherweight is a class act but likely lacks the firepower to keep the Frenchmen at bay. He’ll have to box at his absolute best for 36 minutes to upset the champion.

Elsewhere, Olympic champion Galal Yafai debuts in a 10-rounder for a regional WBC flyweight strap; English heavyweight champion, Fabio Wardley gets a run out against American Daniel Martz; Anthony Fowler looks to bounce back from his defeat to Liam Smith when he faces Lukasz Maciec, and Campbell Hatton returns to the UK for his sixth bout after fighting in Spain last time out.

Also, Olympian Cheavon Clarke makes his pro bow; undefeated Australian heavyweight Demsey McKean boxes in the UK for the first time; and the slick light-heavyweight John Hedges aims to stay undefeated in a six-rounder.

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