Saturday, June 22, 2024

Lawrence Okolie knocks out Lukasz Rozanski in first round to become WBC bridgerweight world champion

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Lawrence Okolie made an emphatic return to action as he knocked out Lukasz Rozanski in the opening round to win the WBC bridgerweight world title in Poland on Friday night. 

Victory sees Okolie become a two-weight world champion as he fought for the first time since relinquishing his WBO cruiserweight belt in defeat to Chris Billam-Smith last May.

Okolie moves to 20-1 as a professional in his latest step towards the heavyweight division, while for Rozanski it marked a first career defeat.

The Hackney fighter floored Rozanski three times in quick and brutal fashion, the latter of which finally prompted the referee to wave off the contest as the home favourite struggled to get back to his feet.

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Lawrence Okolie described his win over Lukasz Rozanski as his best moment in boxing

“This was the best moment in boxing for me, I’m super happy,” said Okolie. “New weight, putting the KO back in Okolie.

“Sometimes I think people are joking, I say I’ll go in there round one and try get the knockout. I went out there and done that.

“Joe Gallagher, hats off to him, I hated him the whole training camp, every day there was something else, but every day he was there for me.

“I hated every single second, but today made it all worthwhile.”

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George Groves believes Deontay Wilder may consider facing Lawrence Okolie in the future if he doesn’t see a clear path to another heavyweight world title fight.

A trip to Poland has been touted as a potential banana skin for Okolie in his bid to rebuild some career momentum, Rozanski awaiting as a dangerous full-throttle fighter who had stunned Alen Babic inside a round last year.

All week Okolie vowed to exploit his opponent’s aggression, and did so with immediate effect when he delivered a couple of early warning shots with a fierce right hand in the opening exchanges.

It didn’t take long to make the breakthrough, Okolie sending Rozanski tumbling to the canvas with a crashing right hand to the face of the 38-year-old.

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Joe Gallagher wants Lawrence Okolie to unify the WBC and WBA bridgerweight world titles and then face

Rozanski was quickly back on his feet before crumbling under another overhand right at the ropes, this time just about managing to beat the count.

Third time was a charm and the best shot of all, Okolie finishing things with a devastating uppercut to leave Rozanski on his hands and knees tangled between the ropes.

Referee Daniel Van de Wiele had seen enough, bringing things to a swift conclusion to crown Okolie champion in front a silenced Polish crowd.

“My last fight was a great experience when I realised what it’s like feeling alone in the ring [against Billam-Smith],” said Okolie.

“I did not feel alone, I felt like I wanted to win for the team. We came and got it done.”

Kevin Lerena now awaits as a potential mandatory fight for Okolie should he elect to stay at bridgerweight, with trainer Joe Gallagher keen to see him unify before making the eventual step to heavyweight.

“I’d like to see a unification, there’s a WBA unification fight there,” said Gallagher.

“There are smaller heavyweights there like Deontay Wilder, Lawrence is at those kind of weights.

“It’s got to be a natural progression but I’d like to see him unify this first.

“He’s full of energy, he can come back into the gym on Monday.”

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