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Lawrence Okolie hires SugarHill Steward as new coach

Image: Lawrence Okolie hires SugarHill Steward as new coach

By Adam Baskin: Lawrence Okolie has split with trainer Shane McGuigan and will now be trained by SugarHill Steward.

According to McGuigan, he couldn’t leave his stable of fighters in the UK to train the unbeaten WBO cruiserweight champion Okolie (18-0, 14 KOs) in Dubai, where he now lives.

It’s unclear whether SugarHill Steward will train Okolie in Dubai or if Lawrence will travel to the U.S. for his next training camp. SugarHill has fighters as well in his stable, most notably WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.

Fury has a fight coming up in late April against Oleksandr Usyk, which could mean that the 30-year-old Okolie will need to train in the UK for his title defense next month against David Light (20-0, 12 KOs) on March 11th.

Can SugarHill help Okolie?

It’s questionable whether SugarHill is an upgrade from McGuigan because he hasn’t made a lot of actual improvements with Fury other than teaching him how to maul and lean on his opponents.

You can argue that Fury was a more effective heavyweight before SugarHill took over as his new coach. Tyson certainly took less punishment than he does now, and his fights were far more entertaining.

If all SugarHill can add to Okolie’s game is to teach him how to maul like Fury, it could ultimately make him vulnerable because he doesn’t have a huge weight advantage over his opponents that he can use to lean on them the way Tyson does.

To be an effective mauler, like Fury, you’ve got to outweigh your opponents and then be prepared to give up large portions of your game, such as throwing combinations, and movement.

“No, not for his next fight. Lawrence has given up his UK residency, I’m pretty sure, to go live in Dubai. It gives him only a certain amount of days in the country,” said trainer Shane McGuigan to Pro Boxing Frans.

“It’s disappointing; it’s unfortunate that I can’t just lift my whole stable of fighters and take them to a training camp abroad. I heard he’s working with SugarHill, working with him, and training on trial with a few other people. I wish him well.

“There are no hard feelings. Just as he said, there are no hard feelings. He’s a very talented lad, so hopefully, he can fulfill that potential,” said McGuigan.

“Bad advice,” said Eddie Hearn when asked by Boxing Social about his thoughts on Okolie leaving McGuigan.

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