After First Loss, Lawrence Okolie Has Something to Prove

Boxing Scene

Former cruiserweight titleholder Lawrence Okolie has vowed to prove his detractors wrong when the former Olympian travels to Poland in an attempt to become a two-weight champion. 

Promoter Boxxer confirmed yesterday that Okolie (19-1, 14 KOs) will step up to the bridgerweight division to challenge current WBC titleholder Lukasz Rozanski (15-0, 14 KOs) on Sunday in Rzeszow, Poland.

Okolie’s appearance against Rozanski will be the first since his defeat against Chris Billam-Smith (19-1, 13 KOs) last May, in which he lost his WBO belt by majority decision.

Okolie admitted he has a chip on his shoulder in wanting to recapture a title, insisting his primary motivation is now proving to his critics what he is about.

“At this point, it would mean everything,” Okolie told Sky Sports. “Winning and losing a world title, I can see the difference. So I want it – and I want it bad.

“I’ve got to prove a lot of people wrong. Not that it’s my main motivation, but it does give you a chip on your shoulder.”

Rozanski previously had been in talks to face former cruiserweight titleholder Tony Bellew, 41, as part of the latter’s comeback. Instead, the call went to Okolie, who has vowed to defeat Rozanski in front of his own fans.

“It’s one of the main reasons I wanted it,” Okolie said of the fight locatino. “I’ve got the experience that didn’t go how I wanted it to in Bournemouth – but valuable experience.

“It’s given me that little bit extra – ‘I’m going to smash him in front of his own fans.’ So we’re nine short weeks away, and then I’ll get it done.”

Despite Billam-Smith representing the only blemish on his record, Okolie, a Hackney, U.K., native, insists his career is not dependent on a rematch. But he says he can imagine a rematch coming together if he is successful in Poland.

“I think Chris is also another quite-big cruiserweight, so there’s probably an opportunity for us to box at bridgerweight after I’ve won this belt,” Okolie said.

“It’s not something I’m desperately chasing. We all know I activated the rematch clause, and for one reason or another it never happened.

“My career doesn’t hang on a rematch, but it would be nice to avenge my only loss.”

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