Lawrence Okolie Targets Heavyweight Fight with Dillian Whyte

By Charles Brun - 03/27/2024 - Comments

Former WBO cruiserweight champion Lawrence Okolie revealed that he eventually wants to move up to heavyweight to take on former world title challenger Dillian Whyte.

Okolie (19-1, 14 KOs) doesn’t say when he wants to fight Whyte, who turns 36 in April and showed signs of decline in his recent fight against Christian Hammer. Waiting too long could be pointless for Okolie because Whyte is clearly nearing the end of his career.

Earlier this month, Whyte emerged from a nearly two-year layoff following a knockout loss to Tyson Fury in 2022 to defeat 36-year-old journeyman Christian Hammer by a third-round stoppage on March 17th in Castlebar, Ireland.

Upcoming Bridgerweight Title Bout

Okolie will fight on May 24th in Poland against 38-year-old WBC bridgerweight champion Lukasz Rozanski (15-0, 14 KOs).

This fight makes sense for Okolie if he plans on moving up to heavyweight shortly after because there are no chances of interesting money-making fights at bridgerweight, and he’s already more than big enough to compete at heavyweight.

Okolie’s Heavyweight Ambitions

Okolie is bigger and more powerful than IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk. However, Okolie lacks boxing ability, which could be a problem at heavyweight against the hard-hitting, more skilled fighters.

It’s fair to say that if a basic slugger like Chris Billiam-Smith gave him nightmares, beating him by a 12-round decision last year, a decent second-tier heavyweight like Whyte or 40-year-old Dereck Chisora would beat him.

“Dillian Whyte’s now back,” Lawrence Okolie told Sky Sports. “Obviously everyone knows from back when I was Commonwealth and British champion I wanted that fight so that’s definitely one on my radar. Outside of that we’ll see what the landscape looks like.

“I’ve been looking at the heavyweights and seeing how much fun they’ve been having up there. I want to have a go as well.”

A Strategic Path to Heavyweight Success

When Okolie does move up to heavyweight, he needs to take the backdoor route to a world title by taking on two or three veterans, and then go for a belt.

It could be difficult without him being promoted by someone with connections like Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing.

In hindsight, Okolie should have stayed with Hearn because his path to the top would be easier now. With Hearn pulling the strings for Okolie the way he did early on with Anthony Joshua getting a rapid title shot after turning pro in 2013, he could get a crack at a belt and an enormous payday almost immediately. It’s too bad Okolie left the wily promoter.