Lawrence Okolie will make the second defense of his WBO cruiserweight title in a rare Sunday main event for Matchroom Boxing, facing Poland’s Michal Cieslak in a 12-round bout from London’s O2 Arena.
Bad Left Hook will have live coverage on Sunday, Feb. 27, starting at Noon ET, with the fights streaming live on DAZN.
Who wins Okolie vs Cieslak? We’ve got our picks in.
Scott Christ (4-5)
Kind of a sleeper fight, because cruiserweight is kind of a sleeper division. But these are two top 10 guys, and it’s about as good a fight as Okolie was going to get while Mairis Briedis is chasing the hysterically dumb pipe dream idea that Jake Paul is going to pay him any mind, and while Ilunga Junior Makabu is just coming off of a fight a month ago and all that. Okolie couldn’t sit around doing nothing. He could, however, have taken an easier fight than this.
But he didn’t, and that’s good. Cieslak is a good fighter and one I think has the ability to score a pretty decent upset here. I don’t think he will, but that’s more on the fact I believe Okolie has legitimately sharpened his game, to where he now doesn’t have to rely on being so intensely negative and hoping the big bomb will land. He looked like a much better and more confident fighter against Krzysztof Glowacki than he did against Isaac Chamberlain or Matty Askin on the domestic level a few years back. At 29, there’s room for a bit more growth, and I think it’s good to remember he came into the pro game still pretty raw in terms of overall skills. I think Cieslak takes him the distance because he’s a good pro, but Okolie will do enough to earn a win, using his height and length, and maybe that dangerous power to keep Cieslak a little tentative for too long. Okolie UD-12
Wil Esco (6-3)
I may have slightly underestimated Lawrence Okolie in the past, believing him to be strictly carried by his thudding power. Okolie might be a little more cerebral than I originally thought, but he still isn’t exactly a master boxer by any means, even if that punch he packs has been sufficient enough to be a game-changer in most fights. I can’t help but feel like this matchup will present more of the same for Okolie, where he takes his time while trying to line up a right hand to put Cieslak away. I’m not certain that Cieslak will be able to offer much of a challenge to Okolie for very long, so I’m going to take him to get stopped by the end of the first half of the bout. Okolie TKO-
John Hansen (6-3)
“The world record for pancakes eaten in one sitting is 73 pancakes. That is held by a Russian man whose life must be an unendurable hellscape of excruciating sadness.” — Forrest MacNeil
I have ordered pancakes as a meal on many occasions, always of my own free will, and often with great enthusiasm. I always find myself regretting the decision within five bites or five minutes, whichever comes first.
There’s nothing inherently bad about pancakes, and I don’t doubt or damn anyone who says they like them. The ingredients are all there for a tasty meal. My amnesia always vanishes once the plate is in front of me, though.
Cooked dough is delicious, but better in almost any other form, be that cookie, cake, doughnut, muffin, or something else entirely. Maple syrup is great, and waffles serve as a much more satisfying consumable platform for it. Fruit, chocolate chips, or anything else one might think to stuff inside a pancake are no less, and often more, appealing on a plate by themselves.
That realization always fades away after a little time passes, and optimism inevitably conquers memory. Then the soggy, room temperature reality of a plateful of second-rate congealed melancholy obliterates optimism and memory both.
Lawrence Okolie headlines a card out of London this weekend. He’s got all the skills to be great. I’ll be watching. Could be a good show this time! Okolie TKO-5
Patrick Stumberg (5-4)
It feels weird to praise someone for doing what should be the bare minimum, but I’m liking Okolie’s reign so far. He beat a very strong former champ for the belt, took care of his mandatory challenger, and now faces a genuine top 10 threat who gave fellow champ Ilunga Makabu plenty of issues. Cieslak is tough as hell, has a great body attack, and was fearless enough to face Makabu’s face-busting power with his hands at his waist. Not sure I like the style matchup for him, though. Some of Cieslak’s best work comes when he can pull opponents onto heavy body shots, but his willingness to cede ground allowed the much shorter Makabu to tee off on the ropes at times. I just don’t think he has the means to consistently get inside of Okolie’s unfair reach advantage, and even if he does, Okolie’s size and power may be enough to overcome Cieslak’s technical infighting skills.
If Cieslak can keep it in the phone booth, prevent Okolie from tying him up, and do real damage to his midsection, the upset’s feasible. Unfortunately, it’s far more likely that Okolie keeps him on the end of his jab, smothers his work inside, and plunks him with a straight right to end things. Okolie TKO-6