Home Boxing News Lawrence Okolie has one eye on heavyweight Dillian Whyte as bridgerweight debut...

Lawrence Okolie has one eye on heavyweight Dillian Whyte as bridgerweight debut looms

Lawrence Okolie. Photo credit: Sky Sports

Former WBO cruiserweight champion Lawrence Okolie 19-1 (14) views his move to bridgerweight as a stepping stone to the heavyweight division.

The 31-year-old Londoner will face WBC 224-pound titleholder Lukasz Rozanski 15-0 (14) at Hala na Podpromiu in Rzeszow, Poland on May 24 in Poland.

The six-foot-five Okolie, who lost his WBO 200-pound title to Chris Billam-Smith 19-1 (13) by majority decision in his last bout in May, sees himself eventually growing into a fully-fledged heavyweight.

If Okolie has his way, he will get a crack at Dillian Whyte 30-3 (20), who was recently cleared of any wrongdoing after failing a drugs test.

Thr 35-year-old Whyte of London made his return to the ring in Ireland earlier this month, stopping journeyman Christian Hammer 27-11 (17) in three.

“Dillian Whyte’s now back,” Okolie told Sky Sports. “Obviously everyone knows from back when I was Commonwealth and British champion I wanted that fight so that’s definitely one on my radar. Outside of that we’ll see what the landscape looks like.

“I’ve been looking at the heavyweights and seeing how much fun they’ve been having up there. I want to have a go as well.”

As he looks to rejuvenate his career, Okolie has taken on a new trainer in the form of the accomplished Joe Gallagher.

“It’s come at the right time. New weight class, new energy, new trainer. I’m ready to take the bridgerweight then heavyweight scene by storm,” Okolie said.

Okolie says Gallagher tested him from their first day in the gym.

“He put me through session after session after session just the worst kind. What he said to me afterwards was: ‘I just wanted to see if you really wanted it still.’ I do, so that’s good,” he said.

Okolie sees old foe Billam-Smith – who is set to defend his belt against the dangerous Richard Riakporhe next – eventually joining him at bridgerweight for a rematch of their forgettable first bout that saw Okolie down once in the fourth, 10th and 11th rounds and deducted one point for holding in each the fifth and seventh rounds.

“Him and Riakporhe have a fight. Obviously the winner of that, it’s a great fight,” Okolies said.

“Whichever one of them wins out of that one, I’m up for. Obviously I’d prefer Chris to win because then we can have a rematch at bridgerweight. I’m sure they’ll be up for that.”

Before that can happen, he will need to get past Rozanski. The 38-year-old Pole has never been beyond the fourth round but promises to be dangerous early. In his last bout he wiped out the previously undefeated Croatian Alen ‘The Savage’ Babic 11-1 (10) in the opening round.

“The guy’s good. Undefeated, 90 something percent KO ratio, I’m going to his hometown,” said Okolie.

“It’s a hard task but I’m going to go in there and smash it and smash him.”