Lawrence Okolie would welcome opportunity to test himself against Denis Lebedev in near future
By Richard Damerell
Last Updated: 09/01/19 4:40pm
Lawrence Okolie would face former world champion Denis Lebedev "sooner rather than later" and no longer feels under pressure to preserve his unbeaten record.
The 26-year-old cruiserweight has collected British and Commonwealth titles while racking up 10 successive victories and is preparing to return against an unnamed opponent at The O2 on February 2, live on Sky Sports.
Russia's Lebedev was mentioned by promoter Eddie Hearn as a potential future opponent for Okolie, who would relish the chance to test himself against the 39-year-old, a former WBA and IBF belt holder.
"Yeah, 100 per cent, that's a fight I would take, sooner rather than later," Okolie told Sky Sports.
"As soon as you get to the top 10 fighters in the world, they're all going to be good. I don't really over think it any more. I just train, get myself in shape, and just try and learn from every fight.
"With just how I am naturally, I can get away with a lot of stuff, but as you climb up the levels, you need to add skill, you need to set people up. You need to hide your power."
Nearly a year has passed since Okolie put his perfect record on the line against fellow prospect Isaac Chamberlain, with the Hackney man emerging with a unanimous decision victory.
But Okolie recognises he is entering a new chapter of his career as he moves towards European and fringe world level, and is no longer daunted by the prospect of a first defeat.
"I will show a little bit more of myself. I've been boxing a bit safe, within myself," said Okolie.
As much as I've shown with the people I've fought, I've been too much thinking 'what are people going to say, if I take the risk and lose?'
"Safe in the sense that I know I'm a big, strong guy, with power. I just rely on that, because it's safe. Where now, I'm going to show a bit more skill I believe, a bit more relaxation.
"I think I'm past the stage of caring now about [being] undefeated.
"As much as I've shown with the people I've fought, I've been too much thinking 'what are people going to say, if I take the risk and lose?'
"But now I actually just don't care anymore, I'm just going to go out there and have fun."