THE first Olympian from the GB Rio 2016 squad is set to turn professional. Lawrence Okolie, the team’s heavyweight (91kgs or cruiserweight in professional terms) will sign with Matchroom Sports.
Okolie rose rapidly to prominence on the international amateur circuit. He was a novice but impressed in international outings in the World Series of Boxing and won selection for the European Olympic qualification event. He dazzled there, showing real power as he beat top quality opposition including the world number three, Azerbaijan’s Abdulkadir Abdullayev.
In both the final of the World Series of Boxing and his second bout at the Olympics he came up against nemesis Erislandy Savon, the outstanding Cuban who, when he was up at super-heavyweight, pushed Anthony Joshua close at London 2012. In their Olympic bout Savon had Okolie under pressure in the first round but Lawrence rallied to fight back gamely but lose the decision. It was an improvement from their collision in the WSB which Okolie lost by stoppage.