Lawrence Okolie hopes victory over European champion will lead to world title fight in 2020
"I'm definitely going to push towards world level and try and grab a world title next year."
By Richard Damerell
Last Updated: 07/08/19 10:35pm
Lawrence Okolie has confirmed his next fight against European champion Yves Ngabu and hopes to stay on course for a world title shot early next year.
The British and Commonwealth cruiserweight champion will take another step-up in class against a fellow unbeaten fighter in Ngabu, who was ringside for the Hackney man's stoppage win over Mariano Angel Gudino at The O2 in July.
Ngabu has joined Dominic Ingle's gym in Sheffield, defeating Micki Nielsen in February, and Okolie is full of respect for the 30-year-old Belgian with 14 knockouts in 20 wins.
"I rate him," Okolie told Sky Sports. "He's a good, come forward, counter puncher, undefeated, good knockout ratio.
"On paper, it's a really tough fight. I'm looking forward to it.
"I know he trains with Dominic Ingle. A lot of world champions come in and out of there, same as Shane McGuigan, my coach.
"When I break it down and look at Ngabu versus me, just stylistically it's a good match-up for me. Talk is cheap, we're going to have to wait until the night.
"I want to be out twice this year. I want to get it soonish. I'll be looking to get it done quite quickly, next couple of months. I had a fight not too long ago. I've just been enjoying a week or so off, but I'm still in good shape, so I can go straight in."
Okolie has climbed to No 2 in the WBA rankings as he pursues a world title fight and will also be keeping a watchful eye on Mairis Briedis and Yuniel Dorticos, who will battle for the WBO, IBF and vacant WBC belt in the World Boxing Super Series final.
"I'm in a position where I could stay and defend the British titles a few times and then go up, but I said no, I want to go for the European," he said. "God willing I'm able to win that. I'm definitely going to push towards world level and try and grab a world title next year.
"All of the top fighters are getting to the end of their careers. Usyk has moved up, Gassiev has moved up, then you've got Briedis and Dorticos at the top of the cruiserweight tree at the moment.
"Getting in the mix with them, I don't feel like I'm that far off, a little bit more conditioning, a little more seasoning. Hopefully this next fight will be able to teach me stuff, but at the same time I'm able to win and get me ready for those next levels."
A hotly contested domestic division includes the unbeaten duo of Richard Riakporhe and Mikael Lawal, and Okolie hopes to return to face a British rival in the future, preferably with a world title around his waist.
"The fighters at world level, they're dangerous, it's not easy, as much as I push myself," he said.
"It's not easy mentally or physically to know that guy is a good fighter and then you have to go in there and fight him. I'm going to go and do it.
"Ultimately once it's all said and done, I'll be the British guy that's gone and won the British, European, Commonwealth and World and then I can bring it back to Britain and we can have those domestic dust-ups at world level and really give the fans and each other something to work for and enjoy."