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Lawrence Okolie locked in on Lukasz Rozanski, fight set for Poland on April 24

Lawrence Okolie

Former WBO cruiserweight champion Lawrence Okolie 19-1 (14) is looking to move on with his career in the bridgerweight division.

The 31-year-old Brit will challenge WBC 224-pound champion Lukasz Rozanski 15-0 (14) at Hala na Podpromiu in Rzeszow, Poland on April 24.

The bout will be the first for Okolie since his losing his WBO 200-pound belt to countryman Chris Billiam-Smith 19-1 (13) by majority decision last May.

In that fight Okolie was down once in the fourth, 10th and 11th rounds and was deducted one point for holding in both the fifth and seventh rounds. Billam-Smith cut over the left eye.

Poland’s Rozanski, 38, claimed the WBC title with a first round blowout of Croatian Alen Babic 11-1 (10) last April.

The WBC created the bridgerweight division four years ago as a weight class that sits between cruiserweight and heavyweight. To date, no other sanctioning body recognises the division.

The six-foot-five Okolie believes the higher weight class will benefit him.

“I think making that cruiserweight limit was getting harder and harder as I got older,” Okolie told Sky Sports. “I’ve been making it since I was 18 so for me it’s a journey on the way to heavyweight.

“I always go for the hardest fights and go for world titles so this was the opportunity for another world title and to become a two-weight world champion, so who am I to say no?”

Okolie would like nothing more than to be known as ‘champ’ again.

“At this point it would mean everything,” he said. “Winning and losing a world title, I can see the difference so I want it and I want it bad.

“I would say (he’s more motivated than ever). If I’m going to be brutally honest then definitely.

“I’ve got to prove a lot of people wrong, not that it’s my main motivation but it does give you a chip on your shoulder.

“Even the other team, for them to make this fight and they’re probably feeling really confident, I have to show them too.

“I’ve got to remind a lot of people what I’ve done and what I’m capable of and what I’ve got left in the tank.”

Okolie will be fighting abroad for the first time in his career but he is familiar with boxing in hostile territory. The Billam-Smith fight took place in the challenger’s hometown of Bournemouth.

“It’s one of the main reasons I wanted it,” said Okolie. “I’ve got the experience that didn’t go how I wanted it to in Bournemouth, but valuable experience.

“It will be a sell-out at this place.

“It’s given me that extra ‘I’m going to smash him in front of his own fans’ so we’re nine short weeks away and then I’ll get it done.”

Okolie added that while he would the opportunity to avenge his loss to Billam-Smith, won’t wait around for it.

“My career doesn’t hang on a rematch, but it would be nice to avenge my only loss,” he said.