by Tamas Pradarics
Mikael Lawal must celebrate the moment when he signed a promotional pact with Team Sauerland. The cruiserweight prospect had had a 2-0 record when Nisse Sauerland smelt potential in him, offering a contract that the parties punctuated in last July.
Since then, Lawal (5-0, 3 KOs) has stepped into the squared circle three times, all on the undercards of major World Boxing Super Series shows that were promoted by Sauerland Event.
He started 2018 on January 27 in Riga, Latvia, where he opened the undercard leading to a massive unification battle between Oleksandr Uysk and Mairis Briedis. The latter served as the first semi-final bout of the 200-pound version of the WBSS tournament.
That night Lawal had a tougher-than-expected tune-up bout against Hungarian Istvan Orsos (16-44-2, 5 KOs). It was not the veteran journeyman, however, who made it more difficult for the 22-year-old prospect.
”The thing is we were originally training for six rounds. Then at the weigh-in, they announced it as a four-round fight. But after we walked up to the ring [on fight night] they announced ’six rounds of boxing’,” remembers Aamir Ali, manager of Lawal to BoxingScene.com in a recent telephone interview.
”Mikael looked at me ’Oh my God, six rounds?’. So, in his mind, he was kind of switched on, switched off and he has never done six rounds in his life. And one thing people do not know about Mikael is that he has only had seven amateur fights. If you take this fight into consideration in his professional career he has only had 12 fights in his career. While with his opponents, when you take them all into consideration and combine their records together I think it is close to being about 160 fights. So that is a lot of experience in front of a novice.”
Lawal dropped his foe in round two, three and five, and though he barely missed to win a round, he seemingly had issues with his condition that helped the tougher-than-dangerous Orsos finish the fight on his feet.
”As the fight went on I could see a block in his mind, like ’Okay, I have not made six rounds before. And this guy can endure a lot of punishment. Every time I knock him down he gets back up again.’ The referee did not seem to be stopping it for some reason. I thought it should have been stopped at least on a few occasions. But the referee was more inclined to let him go on,” Ali said.
”It was a tough fight,” said Lawal. ”I mean he could take a punch, he could take punishment. I personally think the referee should have stopped it at least after the third knockdown. I thought I could stop him in the fourth but he could really take it.”
The unbeaten prospect’s manager, who runs a gym in London called Stonebridge Boxing Club, is well-aware that his protégée needs to learn more on the way towards a potential regional title fight. But Team Lawal has patience on their side as well as a positive mindset.
”I was happy with his performance. I was happy that he went six rounds at a consistent pace, he got the experience of going six rounds, and once you have got that in the bank, once you have been there, you know that you can do it again,” said Ali.
”I talked to Nisse [Sauerland], Kalle [Sauerland] and Wilfried [Sauerland], and they were both happy with Mikael’s performance. His coach was also happy. He wanted to get the knockout, maybe Mikael could have done a little bit more, but, all-in-all it was a good performance.”
Team Lawal does not intend to slow down. Mikael will next fight on the undercard of the first super middleweight WBSS semi-final bout between George Groves and Chris Eubank Jr that will take place at the Manchester Arena on February 17.