Lawrence Okolie claims Commonwealth cruiserweight belt with crushing Luke Watkins stoppage

Chandler Waller 06/06/2018

Lawrence Lustig

Lawrence Okolie is the new Commonwealth cruiserweight champion following a devastating victory in front of his home crowd. 

Despite opponent Luke Watkins attempting to use an effective jab to the body early on, it was the height and reach of Okolie that took charge from the first seconds.

Always looking for the early win, Okolie’s right hand was like a trigger waiting to connect at any moment.

Okolie whipped that shot in during the second round, pushing Watkins to the ropes in the process before unloading for short success.

In round three, and after softening Watkins up, Okolie landed another cracking right hand to the head of Watkins and followed later by successive hooks to put the now former title-holder down twice to end the fight.

Michael Alexander and the corner both stopped the fight simultaneously as Watkins was in no position to continue.

On the undercard, Reece Bellotti and Ryan Doyle took its time to warm-up as both worked behind the jab and attempted to land hooks in the last few seconds of round one. Bellotti took a couple of big shots in round two but was able to fight fire with fire taking his man to the ropes and wrenching the left hook into the body.

Both men went at it landing significant shots to end round two, and in round three continued to please the crowd. Bellotti was sharp throwing shots to the liver of Doyle with regularity but was susceptible to getting caught with good shots coming back by Doyle.

A cut under the right eye of Bellotti was visible in the fourth round as the fight went back and forth with the pair trading shots. Bellotti was caught flush on the chin by Doyle’s troublesome right hook but managed to survive the round.

Fighting on the inside became troublesome for Bellotti as Doyle backed him up before the underdog dealt a barrage of shots to send him flying to the canvas The fight was waved off before Bellotti could say, ‘I’m ready.’

Daniyar Yeleussinov made his UK debut, and judging by the crowd alone this won’t be the only time he appears in London. 

A breezy start for the Kazakh saw him pick off Zoltan Szabo with no problem, occasionally landing some big shots. The superb left possessed by Yeleussinov got through with relative ease as he dodged punches coming back from a wild Szabo.

Effective use of the jab by Yelleusinnov in the fourth round extended his points gap and allowed him to move into position and land that left hand.

Spectacular work from Yelleusinnov continued in round five as he threw a random uppercut to drop his opponent’s guard – once again to land a straight left.

Yelleusinnov made easy work of Szabo in the last three minutes to coasts to a 60-54 points win.


There was big support for both Ted Cheeseman and Pauly Upton who put their undefeated records on the line.

The fight was dangerous from the get-go with neither man getting a chance to breathe in the early exchanges. Upton started fast in first two rounds but Cheeseman was very durable and struck back with powerful left hooks.

Cheeseman took control in the third round with clever combinations on the ropes and took the centre of the ring. Getting a little carried away, Upton countered easily but started breathing heavily and found himself in the corner and on the ropes multiple times.

Crushing blows to the head and body of Upton followed from Cheeseman before a crunching uppercut floored him in the fourth. It wasn’t long before Cheeseman landed the rig, again and again, to drop Upton four times in total and referee Terry O’Connor had seen enough.

Using his height and reach advantage, Felix Cash kept Francis Tchoffo at bay with his jab.

A couple of lead hooks allowed Cash to get himself in the position he wants to be in the second as Tchoffo swung wildly with Cash’s corner urges him to keep moving.

Cash lands with a straight right hand wobbling Tchoffo in the third, and in the fourth lands a nice uppercut on the inside. A 1-2 also broke through the guard of Tchoffo and Cash continued to repeat it, cruising into the fifth session.

Both started taking hard shots, but it was Cash who started to dance around his opponent – landing a cracking right hand to the temple.

Round six and Cash began dominating despite his opponent still being lively. The classier work always came from Cash and he managed to drop Tchoffo close to the end of the round. Tchoffo was saved by the bell but on his way to a comprehensive defeat.

With his solid and repetitive jab on display again, Cash kept away from more wild swings by Tchoffo. The gum shield flew out after a left hook followed by a right and Tchoffo clearly tired in the last round as he continued to lash out, tripping himself twice.

A class performance from Cash as he takes it on points 80-71.

In a great fight, fast combinations from Danny Dignum told as he got up close and personal with Anthony Fox.

Both men looked to land significant blows in the first, but it was Dignum who started to land more body shots to weaken Fox and chase him down to force him onto the ropes.

The fight continued on the inside until Dignum landed an uppercut which sent Fox back a few steps. Dignum did get caught flush on the chin from a straight right as Fox applied pressure in the fourth and eventually hit the canvas. Fox landed simple combinations and put Dignum down again for a 10-7 round.

Into the fifth round, Dignum completely changes his game plan and looks to land counters. Rough and tumble ensued between the pair and Dignum was thrown to the floor twice, but no count was given.

Using the shoulder and turning his opponent, Dignum tried his best to avoid getting up close and worked out how to control the fight into the final round.

Looking tired, Dignum powered through leading with his jab and using the backhand when he can. Firing in the corner, it was all Dignum late on as he landed a successive straight right to the body just before the bell.

The ring official gave it close 57-56 for Dignum.

Craig Richards began proceedings but had a slow start. The light-heavyweight soon applied pressure late in round one and continued that success in the second.

Using chopping right hands to stun Bosko Misic, Richards connected with consecutive rights and a left hook to the body to end the fight in the third.

richards ll

A big pro-Sean McGoldrick crowd at York Hall witnessed the super-bantamweight carry his career momentum in the fight and land combinations at will.

Craig Derbyshire had some success in the second, but nothing to worry about as McGoldrick fired back with body shots almost dropping his man.

Into the third round, McGoldrick found it easy in there and ultimately made it his fight. Working behind the jab in the fourth, McGoldrick already looked to have the fight safely in the bag.

Dodging and countering, the Irishman had Derbyshire punching thin air most of the time. His opponent tried to battle it out in the final round but couldn’t get through.

In the end, McGoldrick won on points 60-54.

Louie Lynn started brightly and landed a perfect 1-2 to apply early pressure ro Ricky Starkey by whipping the left hook on the inside.

Seconds before the bell, Lynn landed a straight right to send his man down. Starkey was breathing hard in round two and was backed up by Lynn to the corner where he scored with a right hook-straight left to drop Starkey again.

Just before he’s knocked down again, Starkey’s corner decided to throw in the towel to end it in round two.

All pictures by Lawrence Lustig / Matchroom

Chandler Waller is a staff writer for World Boxing News. Follow Chandler on Twitter @ChandlerWaller