Lawrence Okolie: ‘I need to adapt completely and show I can be extremely destructive’

Lawrence Okolie
Action Images/Andrew Couldridge
After winning the British title at Wembley Stadium and headlining at the O2, Lawrence Okolie addresses the backlash to those performances

What are your thoughts on the Matty Askin British title fight now?

Before the fight Askin was ‘above British level,’ ‘he’s fringe world level’. That’s what everyone said, that’s what everyone believed and that’s what he showed with his performances. As soon as I beat him in a scrappy kind of affair, but I beat him [clearly]. Watching the fight back I couldn’t give him much of an argument for winning in the sense that he wasn’t active, despite the clinching and so on and so forth. He wasn’t boxing from range, he wasn’t doing anything really. It showed me that I was able to beat someone at that level even with my inexperience. Because I always find a way to win. But more importantly it showed me the stuff I need to work on, not just for my next fight or the fight after that but just for my career. It’s become clear that I’m tall, strong, powerful and I hit hard and I’m very difficult to cope with from range. Now I need to know everyone that I box is going to be diving towards my chest. In sparring I spar heavyweights, good fighters who are good enough to be able to be able to keep it long with me or try different stuff out. In a fight I think people feel my power and then make a desperate attempt to get on my chest. So it’s what do I do now? Now I know that, it’s happened to me twice, it’s what do I do now in training to prepare myself for the next time someone tries getting on my chest.

You must take satisfaction from winning the British title so early in your career?

Of course. It’s similar to the Olympics in that I wasn’t meant to get to the Olympics after 19 amateur fights, boxing against the world’s best fighters with such little experience. But I did it. So now I’ve won the British title in 10 fights, a year and a half as a pro … it shows me the level I’m at now and if I put in the right work, smart work, where I can get to given time.

Because it was an ugly fight, is that a sign now it would be good to do a few defences?

I have to be honest with myself and not deluded. If I’m honest with myself, there’s key stuff that I need to work on for the next little bit of my career before I can say I can beat every style.

To win convincingly or to win in impressive fashion, that’s a different story. And also there’s another level of boxers who won’t allow me to hold. They’ll be working in clever ways. They won’t allow me to hit and close the range down. They’ll be work on stuff like that. It’ll be what do I do against someone of that level. I have to working on it from now.

What’s the backlash been like?

More so on the day of the fight, the day after, there was a lot. But obviously it’s just social media, it’s easy to put my phone down.

Come back and they have a new fight the next week to criticise. That wasn’t so bad. It’s more the realism of it. When people whose opinions I respect say stuff about the fight, that’s when I take it more seriously.

I need to adapt completely and show, like I’ve shown in other fights, I can be extremely destructive.

I wouldn’t be where I am if I listened to public opinion, if I listened to people who told me I can’t. They told me I couldn’t go to the Olympics. [They said] it’s too soon, blah, blah, blah.

If you want to talk performance-wise, it might have been too soon for Askin. [But maybe] that’s how his style and my style gel together. I can work on techniques but it’s also up to my opponents to show the will to win. Because opponents that have come and exchanged with me non-stop, have been stopped. [Isaac] Chamberlain and Askin, who were clever enough to slip and slide, get on the chest, not really do too much work, get into an ugly fight.

Lawrrence Okolie

Has anyone caught your eye as a potential next opponent?

A few but everyone knows the way to do it is just to talk rubbish on Twitter and it’ll probably be you.

The fight I was looking at was Craig Glover who just beat Simon Vallily… Probably next year me and him will battle it out.

There’s a guy called Jack Massey, he’s been talking a bit on Twitter as well.

Do you an idea of when you might fight next?

I want to box one more time before the end of the year because I feel like I’m still learning so I need to box at least four times a year.

I know I’m having longer fights and longer camps but I need to be out one more time before the end of the year.

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