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Lawrence Okolie: Wadi Camacho is a practice fight for me

Well, you can’t say that the British cruiserweight champion is overselling his next fight.

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Boxing at The O2 Photo by James Chance/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Most of the time in boxing, fighters will do their best to sell any fight they have, extolling the virtues and dangers of what are often/usually/mostly on-paper overmatched opponents. True upsets in the fight game are pretty damn rare, particularly these days with matchmaking being so generally careful, especially for a fighter on the way up who might be worth some actual money down the line.

Take Lawrence Okolie, the current British cruiserweight champion. He’s potentially worth some money. The 2016 Olympian has personality, can punch, and perhaps most important to a promoter when looking at a rising cruiserweight, he has a body — at 6’5” with an 82-inch reach — that can fill in some more and join the heavyweight ranks in time.

He is, for the time being, the class of the domestic cruiserweight scene in the United Kingdom. He’s already beaten the previously-undefeated Isaac Chamberlain and Luke Watkins, plus veteran operator Matty Askin, taking the Commonwealth belt from Watkins and British title from Askin.

On Saturday, though, he’s in against Wadi Camacho (21-7, 12 KO), who currently holds the Commonwealth belt following Okolie giving it up. Camacho, a 33-year-old southpaw veteran, won a technical decision over Arfan Iqbal to claim the title on Nov. 17. It was a rematch, and Camacho got some sweet revenge, as Iqbal had stopped him in four rounds back in the summer of 2017.

For the most part, Camacho has lost to his better opponents, and Okolie (11-0, 8 KO) fits that bill. The 26-year-old Okolie isn’t really trying to sell anyone on this fight, either — he’s being pretty frank about how he sees the matchup.

“I think stopping Wadi is a formality for me,” said Okolie. “He’s got the sort of style that will leave him open to me knocking him out. When it comes down to his skill against my skill, Wadi isn’t on my level, or on the level of the people that I’ve already beaten in the amateurs or the pros. I’m taller than him and I hit harder than him. If you break Wadi down as a fighter, I can see many different ways in which I beat him. This fight will definitely end in a knockout.

“He’s a southpaw but he’s also aggressive. An aggressive southpaw in against someone that is taller than them won’t end well. If he goes on the back foot, he’s not as athletic as me with his footwork, so I’ll be able to get in and out of range a lot quicker than him. He likes to throw a lot of punches which gives opportunities for counter-punching. If I hit him with a shot that he doesn’t see coming, that’ll be a big problem for him.”

To be fair, promising a KO and a domination is arguably just another way to sell a fight, but as for it being competitive or even particularly worthwhile, Okolie will only say that he sees Camacho as a good opportunity to get some work in against a lefty.

“With Wadi being a southpaw, it’s very good practice for stepping up to the Lebedevs and other world-level guys,” he said. “I’m not overlooking Wadi, I’ve trained extremely hard for him and I’ll deal with him accordingly. On Saturday I’ll show him and all of the other cruiserweights in Britain what I’m about.

“I want to finish Wadi in a more systematic way — maybe go in southpaw and practice different pattern movements. I want to go in there and show him that he’s a practice fight for me as opposed to a 50-50 fight.”

Okolie-Camacho is part of Saturday’s Matchroom card from London’s Copper Box, which will stream live on DAZN for U.S. viewers. The show is headlined by Charlie Edwards defending the WBC flyweight title against Angel Moreno, and also features a British light heavyweight title fight between Joshua Buatsi and Liam Conroy.

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