Hackney’s Okolie and Brixton’s Chamberlain have fights with different opponents on Saturday (July 1) at the O2 in Greenwich. But the tension between them has increased.
Promoter Eddie Hearn took some responsibility. He described: “He was sitting over there, Okolie, and Isaac was just there. Probably my fault. I went over and I said, ‘Lawrence, Chamberlain’s over there.’
“‘I’ll fight him now’
“’Listen that’s going to be a big fight down the line.’
“‘When are we going to fight?’
“‘You’re 3-0, you haven’t gone past the first round yet,’ I said, ‘Let’s build it.’ I went over to see Chamberlain, he went, ‘I’ll fight him now.’ He said, ‘Do you think that’s an O2 fight.’ I said at the moment it’s a York Hall fight. But it could be, give it six, 10 months it could be a big fight. Two London undefeated cruiserweights. Then Okolie came over and said, ‘When are you going to make this fight between me and him.’ He’s looking up and Okolie said, ‘You’re s***. I’ve been reading the stuff you’ve been writing about me.’ And then Chamberlain stood up. As he’s stood up, he’s in his space then, he’s there. They’ve come together, they’ve been pulled apart. It reminded me of AJ against Dillian Whyte all over again. That same thing, two Londoners. Early days. But we need to plan these fights, for 10 or 12 months. That would be the perfect fight down the road but they’ve got to keep winning and if they start thinking about that fight over other fights, they’ll lose and they’ll make mistakes. So they’ve just got to be smart. But again ego and bravado and testosterone’s taken over. Now it’s like a London pride thing, so it’s a little bit edgy.”
There are some appealing cruiserweight fights Hearn is looking to make, like Warren Baister and Simon Vallily in the North East. “We’re at a stage now where we’ve got so many fighters. You’ve got to start matching people together. Okolie against Chamberlain. In time Conor Benn against Josh Kelly. Baister against Vallily,” the promoter said. “If they’re friends it’s tough. I’d love to make that fight and after Josh Kelly’s performance we’re looking to go back there sooner rather than later.”
“I never looked at Josh Kelly and thought I’ve got to build you in Newcastle. But we went to that place, done really well,” he added. “He could bring world championship boxing to the north east. You can actually pin your hopes on him. That’s why I want to go back to Newcastle. But we need to take other big fights to Newcastle.”