Lawrence Okolie won his first world championship today in London, dominating the fight with Krzysztof Glowacki en route to a big knockout in the sixth round to take the vacant WBO cruiserweight title.
Okolie has now won a world title as well as the European, British, and Commonwealth titles in just 16 fights since turning pro in 2017, and while once he was considered television poison, this is a different fighter under trainer Shane McGuigan, more confident and clearly with full belief that he can be the best in the division.
The 6’5”, 28-year-old Okolie (16-0, 13 KO) was dialed in here, controlling range nicely with his long jab, giving the 34-year-old Glowacki (31-3, 19 KO) fits in every single round. The Polish fighter, a former titlist himself, never had any notable success, failing to close the gap and struggling with the length and spot-on execution from Okolie.
In the sixth round, Glowacki was drilled with a right hand, and it was game over:
Okolie may well be changing the narrative that he’s dull with a performance like this. It wasn’t massive action, fireworks going off all the time, but he was effective, didn’t hold a lot, and used the ring and his reach really well, shutting Glowacki down. On paper, this version of Okolie is really a nightmare matchup for anyone in the division, because you have to take a big risk to get inside on him, knowing his monster right hand looms behind those jabs.
Promoter Eddie Hearn gushed after the fight, and frankly should — Okolie is, as he said, one of Matchroom’s top success stories.
“That was one of the great performances to win a world title,” Hearn said. “An absolute masterclass — the jab, the right hand, the footwork, the right hand, the work on the inside the spinning off. We don’t want to muck around, we want to go straight for all the titles and unify the division, then move up to heavyweight. He’s got scary power, but it used to be all power. Now he’s got the jab, he’s got the movement, he’s got all the knowledge up here.”
Okolie confirmed that he does not wish to muck around, and that the guy he most wants is IBF titleholder Mairis Briedis, considered the top man in the division.
“I would like to fight Briedis next, he’s the one I’d most like to go in with,” Okolie said. “Obviously any champion Eddie can get, but the one I’ll be looking for is Briedis.”
- Joe Cordina MD-10 Faroukh Kourbanov: Scores here were 96-96, 96-95, and 98-93 for the majority decision. I lean more toward that last score, I think the other two give Kourbanov (17-3, 3 KO) an awful lot of credit, though it wasn’t some absolute domination by Cordina or anything. Kourbanov is a well-schooled fighter, defensively responsible, doesn’t have any real power, and the last part limits him greatly. But he gave Cordina (12-0, 7 KO) some things to think about in what was Cordina’s first fight since Nov. 2019, so quite a break for the Welshman, who wants to get into a world title fight at 130 by the end of the year. Maybe that’s pushing it, but also maybe not. He’s 29, he’s won British and Commonwealth titles at 135, he’s done about as much as he’s going to do at this sort of level. If there’s a fight to be made, maybe it’s time to make it. He’s a good boxer, and may well be about as ready as he’s getting.
- Anthony Fowler KO-3 Jorge Fortea: Official time of the stoppage here was 3:08, as Spain’s Fortea (21-3-1, 7 KO) was dropped late in the third round, just before the bell, then counted out. It was the second time he’d been down in the round. Fowler (14-1, 11 KO) has a habit of over-selling his wins sometimes — it’s his right, he’s the one in there fighting the guys — but it has to be said this is a legitimately strong performance. He gave Fortea the business, and Fortea had gone 12 rounds with Bakhram Murtazaliev in late 2019. Not a competitive 12, mind you, but 12 all the same, and Murtazaliev is considered a rising real contender at 154. Fowler really might be putting that long-held potential together as he hits his 30s, this looked like a dialed-in fighter, really as good as I’ve ever seen him look.
ANTHONY FOWLER WITH THE ROUND 3 KO pic.twitter.com/lDRp2o6o4F— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) March 20, 2021
- Ellie Scotney PTS-6 Mailys Gangloff: The 23-year-old Scotney (2-0, 0 KO) is a 122/126 prospect, maybe even could get down to 118 if she wanted, and there might be reason to do that in relatively near future if Shannon Courtenay wins a vacant bantamweight title next month; obviously not next, but really maybe within 18 months or so, in all honesty. She looked pretty good here, as Frances Gangloff (4-2, 0 KO) gave a decent effort but Scotney took the rounds, winning on a score of 59-55.
- Chris Billam-Smith UD-10 Vasil Ducar: Billam-Smith was originally set for this card’s co-feature against Deion Jumah, but got Ducar on short notice instead. Not an easy night, though the scores (97-92, 99-90, 99-90) were wide, as Ducar (9-4-1, 8 KO) hung around and tested the gas tank of Billam-Smith (12-1, 10 KO) at the very least, gave him some stuff to think about. Billam-Smith is at worst a good domestic cruiserweight, but his defense will need some tightening if he wants to go seriously to world level down the line. He’s 30, so in all honesty probably more or less a finished product, but some tweaking is absolutely possible. But he’s been a general bright spot on Matchroom cards for a while now, someone it’s easy to look forward to seeing on a show.
- Ramla Ali PTS-6 Bec Connolly: The 31-year-old Ali (2-0, 0 KO) has some hype, had an amateur run, and women’s boxing doesn’t have the depth to prevent her from making a quick run into contention at featherweight if she’s got the ability to do it. Connolly (3-9, 0 KO) was her usual self, tried and was tough, but lost. Referee’s score was 60-55 for Ali.