Lawrence Okolie is a new world champion and his promoter Eddie Hearn believes he has got himself another big star. Okolie made easy work of former champ Krzysztof Glowacki last night, stopping the 34-year-old Polish southpaw in the sixth round to take the vacant WBO cruiserweight belt. Okolie, now 16-0(130 put it all together in getting the win – his jab, his boxing ability and to close the show his impressive punching power. Glowacki, who fell to 31-3(19) may have seen better days, yes, but he came to win and some people wondered if he might be too experienced for Okolie.
Now, armed with a world title, which Hearn feels will prove to be the first of many, Okolie has a very bright future ahead of him. And Hearn is thinking big as well as talking big. Speaking with Sky Sports after Okolie’s impressive stoppage win, the promoter said the plan now is for London’s Okolie, aged 28, to “go for all the titles, unify the division and then move up to heavyweight.” It seems this has been the way it has always been with the cruiserweights. Since its inception back in 1979, the cruiserweight division has been a stop-gap on the way to the riches of the heavyweight division. So far in the 40-plus year history of the weight class, only two men have been able to win world titles at cruiserweight and then move up to rule at heavyweight – Evander Holyfield, who unified both weight divisions, and David Haye, who unified the cruiserweight division and was able to win the WBA heavyweight title.
Can Okolie become fighter #3 to win gold at both weights?
“That was a good enough performance to beat any cruiserweight in the division, and that’s what we want to do now. We don’t want to muck around, we want to go straight for all the titles and unify the division and then move up to heavyweight,” Hearn said.
Since the gifted Oleksandr Usyk moved up to heavyweight and vacated all four belts (Usyk looking to become the third man to rule the world at both cruiser and heavy), there has been no clear top dog at 200 pounds. Maris Breidis could be the best of the current champions, Breidis (who has also spoken of the possibility of making the move up to heavyweight) currently being the IBF champion. Ilunga Makabu is the current WBC ruler, while two men each hold a version of the WBA cruiserweight title, these being Arsen Goulamirian, the “super champion,” and Ryad Merhy, the “regular champion.”
Can Okolie, with his long reach, his athleticism, his boxing ability and his power, defeat all four men should he get the chance to fight them? It could be that Okolie brings back some glamour and serious fan interest to the cruiserweight division, the way Haye did back in the late 2000s. As for the planned move up to heavyweight, Okolie certainly has the height – 6’5″ – as well as the reach – 83 inches. But again, plenty of talented cruiserweights have tried and failed in their quest to move up from cruiser to heavy. Let’s see if Okolie can unify those 200 pound belts first. But we could have a new star with “The Sauce” and the new WBO champion is certainly a fighter fans cannot wait to see more of.