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Lawrence Okolie Aims To Fight At Bridgerweight Or Heavyweight According To Promoter

Lawrence Okolie Aims To Fight At Bridgerweight Or Heavyweight According To Promoter featured image
Lawrence Okolie is planning to move up to brigerweight/super cruiserweight or heavyweight according to Boxxer chairman Ben Shalom. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

Lawrence Okolie is reportedly gearing up to move up from the cruiserweight division where he previously reigned as the WBO champion towards the bridgerweight/super cruiserweight or heavyweight division. Okolie’s last match transpired in May of last year and resulted in him losing by majority decision to British countryman Chris Billam-Smith who won the WBO title off of Okolie in the process.

Though there has yet to be an official announcement to formally indicate Lawrence Okolie’s (19-1, 14 KO’s) jump in weight class, Okolie’s promoter, Boxxer chairman Ben Shalom, deemed it probable that Okolie would no longer participate in the cruiserweight division going forward.

I think we’re going to look to move up to heavyweight or fight immediately for a world title at bridgerweight,Shalom told Sky Sports in a recent interview.

The reason his performances haven’t been at the level he was used to is, I do think, the weight, as a 6’6 guy. This is personal opinion, and especially at that top level, [that] was getting in the way of his very best performances.

I think he’s looking very seriously at the heavyweight division, possibly bridgerweight first and I think that’s where we’re going to see Lawrence in the latter stages of his career.

The bridgerweight/super cruiserweight division is a newly-established weight class first introduced by the WBC in 2020 and was most recently adopted by the WBA who has branded it as the “super cruiserweight” division. Set between 200 pounds (91 kg) and 224 pounds (102 kg), the division is still finding its feet with barely any fights made since its inception, and only three title fights made in the span of three years.

The current WBC super cruiserweight champion is Polish fighter Lukasz Rozanski (15-0, 14 KO’s), who became the incumbent champion by defeating Croatian heavyweight Alen Babic (11-1, 10 KO’s) on April 22nd in 2023 for the then-vacant WBC bridgerweight belt.

While Ben Shalom did indicate Okolie could be fighting for a title at bridgerweight, it is expected that Rozanski will first defend his title against WBC cruiserweight champion-in-recess Badou Jack (28-3-3, 17 KO’s) who were supposed to fight last year, and are expected to step into the ring sometime this year as the fight was mandated by the WBC last November. In that regard, Okolie will have to be subjected to a waiting period until the conclusion or dissolution of the expected Rozanski-Jack title bout.

While there can be fights lying in wait for Okolie at bridgerweight―potentially against South African Kevin Lerena (30-2, 14 KO’s) who became the WBC interim bridgerweight champion when he defeated German heavyweight Senad Genashi (27-4, 26 KO’s) on November 25th. Though becoming an interim champion is not the same as becoming a mandatory challenger, it is not implausible that Okolie would take the opportunity to face Lerena if only to attempt to stay busy as a fighter, and/or to become more accustomed to his new weight.

At heavyweight, Lawrence Okolie faces a plethora of new and different challenges that might require him to test himself at super cruiserweight instead. While there are plenty of talented fighters at heavyweight, the average weight of heavyweights in the current modern era drifts around 230-250 pounds on average, which would require Okolie to become adjusted to an excess weight of at least 30 pounds if he was looking to make his mark in the division [as the cruiserweight limit is set at 200 pounds].

As it would take substantially longer for Lawrence Okolie to transition to the appropriate weight levels of the heavyweight division, it is more likely that he will be participating at super cruiserweight. Furthermore, Okolie is already ranked on the WBA’s super cruiserweight rankings at #8, and seems to have plenty of other fighters aside from Lerena to test himself against.

Lawrence Okolie Aims To Fight At Bridgerweight Or Heavyweight According To Promoter image 1
WBA’s bridgerweight/super cruiserweight rankings as of January 31st, 2024.

Though lower ranked, there are opportunities for Lawrence Okolie to be fast-tracked towards a title shot at the WBA bridgerweight champion Evgeny Tishchenko (13-1, 8 KO’s) given his tenure as a former WBO world champion.

Though there has been no official statement made from Okolie himself, it seems apparent that his May 27th loss to Chris Billam-Smith (19-1, 13 KO’s) has not thoroughly affected him as the former cruiserweight champion is set to venture out of the cruiserweight division for greener, and hopefully better, pastures.