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Lawrence Okolie tells Richard Riakporhe: 'Don’t say my name until you actually want to fight'

Lawrence Okolie will defend the WBO cruiserweight title against David Light on March 25, live on Sky Sports; in the long-term Okolie is eyeing a move up to heavyweight but first promises he will show his cruiserweight rivals "how to do callouts"

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Promoter Ben Shalom is delighted to have Lawrence Okolie back on Sky Sports and gives an update on the Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall rematch

Lawrence Okolie intends to defend his WBO world championship in style and then show his cruiserweight rivals "how to do callouts".

Okolie takes on fellow unbeaten fighter David Light at the AO Arena in Manchester on March 25, live on Sky Sports.

It will be his first contest in a year and his first bout with new trainer SugarHill Steward.

*** FREE FOR EDITORIAL USE ***.Lawerence Okolie vs Krzysztof Glowacki, WBO Crusierweight Title Contest, SSE Wembley Arena..20 March 2021.Picture By Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing. .Lawerence Okolie prepares.
Image: Okolie will now train with SugarHill Steward as he looks to hone his style

"There's nothing like the thrill of fight night, the pressure, the undefeated record on the line, world title on the line, pride on the line. Those are obviously the days that we train and live for during our time as fighters," Okolie told Sky Sports.

"I've missed it."

Steward trains British stars Tyson Fury and Ben Whittaker with Okolie a new addition to his stable.

"There's great coaches in all different styles and you have to match a style that matches you. So the Kronk style, the SugarHill style, it's really good for tall, strong, power-punching boxers," Okolie explained.

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"It's focusing on long, hard punches, feinting and distance. That's what he's been trying to instil in me and we'll see if I'm able to execute.

"But I believe in myself and my abilities. I'll go out there and do what I'm meant to do."

Okolie wouldn't hesitate to fight Richard Riakporhe but casts doubt on whether his London rival is similarly eager.

Lawrence Okolie v Michael Cieslak - 02 Arena
Lawrence Okolie celebrates after beating Michael Cieslak at the 02 Arena, London. Picture date: Sunday February 27, 2022.
Image: Okolie wants to ignite a sequence of big fights in the cruiserweight division

"Don't say my name 'til you actually want to fight," he warned Riakporhe. "It's as easy as this. I will fight that man any time. Any time.

"Then it's done. You've got a world champion who doesn't need to - Richard's not my mandatory. But, he's in my country saying he's the best? See you soon."

Okolie knows huge cruiserweight fights could be on the horizon, if he can get past Light next month.

"It's got such potential to actually be one of the most exciting divisions in Britain. You've got a lot of good names, with good profile, good skill that have styles that will mesh together," he said.

His message to his divisional rivals: "Just risk it. Win, lose, just go and have a good time.

"Have some fights. But we'll see how things develop. The most important thing is beat David Light and from there I'm going to show you guys how to do callouts. I'm going to show you guys how to push if you really want some fights and we're going to have some fun doing it."

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Richard Riakporhe and Lawrence Okolie discuss a potentially huge cruiserweight world title clash, with the pair hopeful it could happen this year

Billam-Smith would beat Riakporhe!

Okolie warns that if Riakporhe chose to box Chris Billam-Smith first, he would, in the WBO champion's view, lose that fight.

"I actually do think Chris will win it, personally. I do think their first fight was a close competitive fight, where I actually thought Chris won. Maybe I was a bit biased at the time because we were in the same gym but I did think he won that fight," Okolie said.

"Since then [in Riakaporhe] I haven't seen massive improvements. I think he's a little bit more composed but I think that Chris has gone through fire, he's been in grudge matches.

"It would be a massive fight. There would be a lot of grudge, the energy would be very different from the first fight. I would favour Chris in that fight unless obviously Richard landed something crazy."

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WBO cruiserweight champion Lawrence Okolie is set to return after nearly a year out of boxing

Training with Fury, and his own heavyweight plan

Okolie is looking forward to getting the opportunity to train alongside WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, especially as he harbours his own long-term goals of moving up.

"It would be cool," Okolie said. "Arguably the best heavyweight in the world at the moment, so it would be good to get in there and move around with him as well.

"I've obviously sparred him in the past. It would good just to have that energy, to see what he does nowadays in training. I've seen him a few years ago but it would be good to see what was the difference between then and now. Why are you so much better now than then? I'd like to find out.

Lawrence Okolie vs Dilan Prasovic, WBO Cruiserweight Title, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London..25 September 2021.Picture By EDDIE KEOGH Matchroom Boxing
Image: Lawrence Okolie has a tough fight in March, especially after a 12-month lay-off

"It'll be good sharing a gym with Ben [Whittaker]," he added, "even though he's younger and less experienced as a professional, he's a talented boxer, Olympic silver medallist.

"It's just all good, all round."

Ultimately Okolie envisions moving up in weight. He'd consider first going to bridgerweight, a new weight class being created by the WBC, before developing into a heavyweight.

"Unify [at cruiser], move to bridgerweight, win the bridgerweight world title, and then move up to heavyweight and win a heavyweight world title. So that when it's all said and done I can look back and say I did what I wanted," he reflected.

"Those are some of my long term goals and I would be excited to see if I can get there."

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Lawrence Okolie delivered a vicious right hand down the middle which Krzysztof Głowacki could not recover from to become a world champion

Okolie-Riakporhe to fight in a unification this year?

BOXXER will stage the March 25 show. Promoter Ben Shalom has an exciting stable of cruiserweight fighters and BOXXER's Riakporhe could be an opponent for Okolie later this year.

"I want Lawrence to get through this fight because David Light surprised a lot of people by beating Brandon Glanton," Shalom told Sky Sports.

"I thought Lawrence's mandatory was going to be Glanton - Glanton's a knockout artist who'd never lost. David Light came through.

"So that's a tough fight, especially after a 12 month lay-off."

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Richard Riakporhe beat Krzysztof Glowacki in impressive fashion and was quick to target world title fights for the near future

If Okolie wins the Light fight, Shalom thinks he should then look for world title unifications.

"I want Richard [Riakporhe] to win a world title. I would like to have more than one world title on the line when those two meet, hopefully at the end of the year," the promoter said.

"There's a lot of attention now on Lawrence," he added.

"People are going to be very interested to see how he performs and I think he's going to surprise a lot of people."

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