Lawrence Okolie (19-1, 14 KOs) will be looking to bounce back in a new weight class at bridgerweight to challenge immediately for his next fight after losing his WBO cruiserweight title last May.
If Okolie immediately battles for a world title at bridgerweight, he would be challenging 38-year-old unbeaten Łukasz Różański (15-0, 14 KOs) for his belt. It’s a winnable fight for Okolie, as Rozanski has recently been facing lesser opposition, like Alen Babic and Artur Szpilka. Those are guys Okolie would easily handle.
The real question is, does Okolie have the chin to withstand the harder punchers from fighters like Rozanski at bridgerweight, and guys in the heavyweight division? It’s a bad sign that Okolie was put down three times by Chris Billiam-Smith in his last outing.
A Change in Weight Class
According to Okolie’s promoter, Ben Shalom of BOXXER, the plan is for the 6’6″ former champion to move up and fight for a belt at bridgerweight and then go up to heavyweight to follow in the path of the former cruiserweight champions, David Haye and Oleksandr Usyk.
Okolie lost to Chris Billiam-Smith by a one-sided twelve-round majority decision last May Bournemouth, getting dropped three times in the 4th, 10th, and 11th rounds.
Okolie’s dreadful performance in the fight made it clear that he needed to move up in weight rather than stay at cruiserweight and get similar treatment from Billiam-Smith in a rematch. In Okolie’s fight before that one, he’d looked less than stellar, defeating David Light by a 12-round unanimous decision.
The referee was playing it strictly, not allowing him to get away with his usual holding by deducting points in the fifth and seventh. Okolie lost by the scores 116-107, 112-112, and 115-108. It was a disaster for Okolie.
Bridgerweight: A Stepping Stone Towards Heavyweight
On the positive side, Okolie could be refreshed and more energetic at bridgerweight, not having to worry about draining down to cruiserweight as he’d previously had to do.
“I think we’re going to look to move up to heavyweight or fight immediately for a world title at bridgerweight,” Shalom told Sky Sports Boxing.
“The reason his performances haven’t been at the level he was used to is, I do think, the weight, as a 6’6 guy. He’s looking very seriously at the heavyweight division… That’s where we’re going to see Lawrence in the latter stages of his career.