Olympian Lawrence Okolie claimed the British Cruiserweight title last night after a unanimous points decision over champion Matty Askin at Wembley last night
This was despite Okolie having 3 points deducted for repeated holding, leading with the head and punches to the back of the head.
The Hackney man held a substantial reach advantage over Askin, but failed to establish his jab effectively.
Referee Victor Laughlin was tested by the fight, which turned into somewhat of a wrestling match rather than a boxing fight.
Okolie landed jabs early on Askin, while Askin landed light hooks – but the pair mauled each other before any kind of combination could be strung together. This continued throughout the third and fourth rounds. By the fifth, Okolie had his first point deducted for leading with the head.
Askin seemed busier during the mauls, but neither fighter landed anything of note in or out of the clinches. In the seventh Okolie landed a clean straight right, and suddenly the crowd was again drawn to the fight. But only a round later, the British fighter was docked another point for continued holding.
The fight continued in a similar fashion for the next 3 rounds, with neither fighter showcasing clean shot selection.
A third point was taken from Okolie in the 11th for holding and hits to the back of the head.
Okolie gets the narrow victory
Askin looked to be the busier fighter over the course of the fight. Okolie, however, managed to land the cleaner shots, getting the decision victory (116–110, 114-112 and 114-113). This was despite the decision being given over a roar of boo’s from the Wembley fans.
Okolie himself stated that the performance left a lot to be desired, stating on Twitter:
“Winnings always good but winning well is better, that was not won well. I’ll go back to the drawing board and work on what needs doing.”
“I’m going back to the gym ASAP”
The fight had echos of the fight against Isaac Chamberlain earlier this year. It appears Okolie has some work to do before progressing past domestic and Commonwealth level.
That being said, this was Okolie’s 10th fight. Whilst it’s easy to want to fast track fighters to championship level in a world of Lomachenko’s, Usyk’s, Rigondeaux’s and Inoue’s, he has time to develop before considering a move up.