Lawrence Okolie takes the next step to plead his case as the best cruiserweight in the world.
A rare Sunday evening title fight sees London’s Okolie attempt the second defense of his WBO cruiserweight crown versus Poland’s Michal Cieslak. Both fighters made weight for their scheduled 12-round main event, which airs live on DAZN from The O2 in London.
Okolie tipped the scale at a fighting fit 199.4 pounds, in line with his weight throughout his five-year career. Cieslak (21-1, 15KOs) checked in at a cut-up 199.6 pounds ahead of his second bid at a cruiserweight title.
The bout marks the first at The O2 for Okolie since the pandemic. His previous fight at the famed venue saw the 2016 Great Britain Olympian secure his place in line for a shot at the WBO title with a seventh-round knockout of unbeaten Yves Ngabu in October 2019.
The title shot would come two fights later, when Okolie registered his most significant win to date in a sixth-round knockout of former two-time WBO titlist Krzysztof Glowacki last March at Wembley’s SSE Arena. His first title defense came last September, stopping unbeaten Dilian Prasovic in the third round on the undercard of Oleksandr Usyk’s memorable 12-round win over Anthony Joshua—whose 258 MGT company guides Okolie—to claim the WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight titles.
Cieslak (21-1, 15KOs) once again hits the road in a bid to win a cruiserweight title. The 32-year-old from Radom, Poland came up just short in a disputed 12-round unanimous decision defeat to Ilunga ‘Junior’ Makabu in their January 2020 vacant WBC cruiserweight title fight in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Two straight wins have followed for Cieslak, both taking place in Poland and ending in knockout victory.
The evening’s chief support bears witness to the pro debut of Galal Yafai, who claimed a Gold medal for Great Britain during last summer’s Tokyo Olympics. Yafai—the younger brother of former WBA junior bantamweight titlist Kal Yafai and bantamweight contender Gamal Yafai—takes the bold step of entering a 10-round regional title fight for the occasion, as he faces Mexico’s Carlos Bautista (10-4-1, 3KOs).
Yafai weighed 111.5 pounds, while Bautista registered at 109.9 pounds for his first career fight outside of Mexico.
Below are the weights for the rest of the DAZN undercard, which begins 5:00 p.m. GMT/12:00 p.m. ET.
Karim Guerfi (30-5, 9KOs), Manosque, France, 125.4 pounds vs. Jordan Gill (26-1-1, 7KOs), Chatteris, Cambridgeshire, 126 pounds—12 rounds, middleweight
Anthony Fowler (15-2, 12KOs), Liverpool, 163.7 pounds vs. Lukasz Maciec (27-3-1, 5KOs), Lublin, Poland, 163.9 pounds—10 rounds, middleweight
Fabio Wardley (12-0, 11KOs), Ipswich, Suffolk, 236.7 pounds vs. Daniel Martz (20-9-1, 17KOs), Clarksburg, West Virginia, 266.2 pounds—10 rounds, heavyweight
Campbell Hatton (5-0, 1KO), Hyde, Cheshire, 136.2 pounds vs. Joe Ducker (9-8-2, 2KOs), Loughborough, Lancashire, 136.8 pounds—6 rounds, lightweight
Below are the weights for the preliminary undercard, which airs on DAZN’s Before the Bell series beginning 3:00 p.m. GMT/10:00 a.m. ET.
Cheavon Clarke (pro debut), Gravesend, Kent, 199.7 pounds vs. Toni Visic (20-29-2, 5KOs), Split, Croatia, 199 pounds—6 rounds, cruiserweight
John Hedges (4-0, 0KOs), Takeley, Essex, 183.9 pounds vs. Aleksander Nagolski (2-1, 1KO), Bytom, Poland, 182.2 pounds—6 rounds, cruiserweight
Demsey McKean (20-0, 13KOs), Ipswich, Australia, 246.1 pounds vs. Ariel Esteban Bracamonte (11-6, 6KOs), La Cumbre, Argentina, 293.1 pounds—8 rounds, heavyweight
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox