Lawrence Okolie was focused yet motionless as he stepped off the scale ahead of his latest title defense.
The 2016 Olympian and unbeaten reigning WBO cruiserweight titlist entered right at the 200-pound divisional limit for his scheduled 12-round title fight. First-time title challenger David Light was a trim and fit 198.3 pounds in his bid to bump off his second straight undefeated opponent.
Their title fight serves as the main event of a Sky Sports telecast airing live from AO Arena in Manchester, England. ProBox TV will also carry the show in the U.S., with its coverage due to begin at 3:00 p.m. ET.
The bout marks the first fight for Okolie under the BOXXER banner after having spent his full career under the Matchroom Boxing banner. The two sides had a falling out last fall, which prompted the WBO to send the mandatory title fight directly to purse bid. It was ultimately worked out where BOXXER would carry the fight shortly before inking Okolie to a promotional contract.
London’s Okolie (18-0, 14KOs) won the WBO title in a sixth-round knockout of former champ Krzysztof Glowacki in their March 2021 vacant title fight. Saturday will mark his third title defense, though coming on the heels of a 13-month layoff largely due to his promotional rift with Matchroom.
New Zealand’s Light (20-0, 12KOs) earned the mandatory ranking following a ten-round win over Brandon Glanton ln their title eliminator between unbeaten contenders last December 2 in Plant City, Florida. Saturday will serve as his first title fight and also his third fight away from his home region within his last four starts.
The evening’s chief support features the latest step in the pro journey of Frazer ‘Big Fraze’ Clarke.
The unbeaten 2020 Olympic bronze medalist from Burton upon Trent, West Midlands will face Romania’s Bogdan Dinu, a late replacement for American journeyman Rydell Booker. The 6’6” Clarke (5-0, 4KOs) was 271 pounds for his fourth career fight in Manchester and third straight in what he has declared his second home. Dinu was 248 pounds as he attempts to break a two-fight skid.
Clarke is joined on the undercard by his amateur boxing teammate, Karriss Artingstall who faces Linzi Buczynskyj in a scheduled six-round featherweight contest.
Artingstall (2-0, 0KOs), a bronze medalist during the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics, weighed right at the 126-pound featherweight limit. Bolton’s Buczynskyj (4-1, 0KOs) was 128 pounds, right at the contracted weight for their preliminary contest.
While all fighters made weight, Friday’s ceremony was not without incident.
Local junior lightweight Michael Gomez Jr. (18-1, 5KOs) will likely face disciplinary action for his classless act during the obligatory staredown for his scheduled ten-round bout versus countryman Levi Giles (13-0, 3KOs).
Gomez tipped the scales at 130 pounds, while Grimsby’s Giles was 128.3 pounds. The two met face-to-face, which saw Gomez drive his forehead into Giles before shoving him to the floor. Cooler heads immediately prevailed to prevent further incident.
Below are the weights for the rest of the undercard.
Callum Simpson (10-0, 8KOs), Barnsley, Yorkshire, 166.2 pounds vs. Celso Neves (9-3-2, 2KOs), Basel, Switzerland via Portugal, 168.3 pounds—8 rounds, super middleweight
Rhys Edwards (13-0, 4KOs), Penygraig, Wales, 128.5 pounds vs. Brian Phillips (12-3, 3KOs), Liverpool, 129.3 pounds—6/8 rounds (swing bout), junior lightweight
Harvey Lambert (1-0, 1KO), Hull, Yorkshire, 153 pounds vs. Casey Brown (4-1, 0KOs), Warrington, Cheshire, 154.2 pounds—4 rounds, junior middleweight
Shakiel Thompson (9-0, 6KOs), Sheffield, 166.3 pounds vs. Robert Talarek (27-17-3, 18KOs), Ruda Slaska, Poland, 165 pounds—6 rounds, middleweight
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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