Lawrence Okolie believes there could be a larger exodus of fighters in store for his former promoter, Eddie Hearn.
Okolie, the WBO cruiserweight titlist, is one of several recognizable British fighters to leave Hearn’s Matchroom roster for Boxxer, the promotional entity that provides the bulk of boxing content for Sky, the prominent UK broadcaster.
Other names include veteran junior middleweight contender Liam Smith, who is coming off a huge upset of Chris Eubank Jr. in a middleweight bout earlier this year, and, most recently, highly regarded light heavyweight contender Joshua Buatsi.
And, according to Okolie, they won’t be the only ones. Okolie, who resides in London, is currently in a legal dispute with Hearn regarding but he did not hold back on what he views as Hearn’s hypocritical nature.
“All you have to do is look at how people act after you’re no longer working with them, they’ll show you their truth,” Okolie said recently on a radio program on talkSPORT. “And it’s not just with me, as I said, I’m not here to talk about other fighters, even that much about Eddie. That is the feeling amongst not just myself, but a lot of fighters.
“And I’m sure you’ll see a bunch more do similar things if he continues down this road.”
“The way [Hearn] acts personally is very different,” Okolie added. “He’s very malicious, bitter, jealous as well.
“And for someone who has been brought up in such a great position and has done so much in terms of his own life, the way he acts on a personal level is very vindictive. It’s quite shocking to be honest, but ultimately, I actually rate him as a promoter. But in terms of other stuff, not so much.”
Okolie, who is set to take on David Light in a Boxxer-promoted main event on March 25 in Manchester, said Hearn is starting to unravel. It was one thing, Okolie noted, for Hearn to lash out on him after they parted ways. But now that other fighters have followed suit, Okolie says there is now a bigger burden on Hearn to justify his talent drain. Okolie pointed out that the Buatsi matter was probably much harder for Hearn to handle than previous defections.
“All you have to do is look at the track record,” Okolie said. “When it was my departure, it was very easy to say, ‘he’s this, he’s that,’ and now we’ve had more fighters leave.
“At the time Liam Smith left, ‘Oh yeah, he’s in his heyday, don’t worry about that one.’ Now his career has gone through the roof.
“You look at Chris Billam-Smith, a former stablemate of mine, [Hearn said,] ‘Oh, we don’t really care about the Chris Billam-Smith’s headline fights at Bournemouth.’
“The list goes on, now Joshua Buatsi gone, all of a sudden he’s scared and whatever else, us boxers, we all talk.
“We’re all very much aware of what he’s like and conversations that are happening, because at the end of the day, we’re the ones that get in [the ring] and we’re really the only ones that understand each other.
“So, of course he’s like that with everyone, my one was probably a little bit easier to do, but with others, as we’ve seen this week, all of a sudden, now [he says] ‘Joshua Buatsi is scared…’
“But when you asked him two months ago, [he said,] ‘Joshua Buatsi is ready for anything,’ so it is what it is.”
ADD COMMENT VIEW COMMENTS (15)