Exclusive: Lawrence Okolie charged up ahead of imminent pro debut

Joe Hewlett 24/03/2017

Olympic boxer Lawrence Okolie will make his professional debut for Eddie Hearn and Matchroom at the MEN Arena as a cruiserweight this weekend.

Okolie, speaking to WBN during fight week, has revealed he’s feeling calm and composed ahead of his opening fight and hopes to entertain a packed Manchester crowd on the Linares v Crolla II undercard.

“I feel calm and relaxed. I’m just excited to get into the ring now. It’s on Sky Sports and my friends and family will be watching so hopefully I can get the KO. If not, then the plan is to not get hit once by my opponent,” said Okolie.

“I’m running for longer durations; my sparring has been good I’ve done more rounds than ever before and I have dieted well. I have remained disciplined and now it’s just a case of resting up for Saturday night.”

The Brit, who grew up in North London, has cited Antony Joshua and the late great Muhammed Ali as his role models in the sport.

“Anthony is an inspiration to me because he has a similar background to myself in terms of where he grew up and is someone who has been in similar situations to me. He has been an Olympic champion and gone on to great things.

As I started to watch boxing, Muhammed Ali became a hero of mine. Not just because of how great he was in a boxing ring but also because of what he stood for. It proves as a fighter you can still be who you are and have a stand up for what you believe in.”

The young prospect has remained humble and gracious of the chance he has been given and is delighted with the team he has acquired.

“I have an amazing management team and an incredible promoting team and am lucky to be in the situation I am in. You don’t realize how much of an opportunity you have until you spend time watching fights at small hall shows where the fighters are working just as hard as you and putting their lives on the line for much less.”

The cruiserweight will be hoping to follow the likes of David Haye and Tony Bellew in creating his own legacy in the division, whilst promoter Eddie Hearn is excited about the 24-year-old’s future and has insisted Okolie will be a forced to be reckoned with.

“It’s been hard to find an opponent for him, not a lot of people want to fight him. His social media posts must have scared most of them off. I think the fans are going to really enjoy watching Lawrence Okolie and his journey on Sky Sports,” predicted Hearn.

Joe Hewlett is lead writer for World Boxing News. Follow Joe on Twitter @Hewlett95