Credit to both unbeaten cruiserweights Lawrence “The Sauce” Okolie (6-0 5KO’s) and Isaac “Chambo” Chamberlain (9-0 4KO’s) for turning their war of words into a headlining grudge fight at the O2 Arena in just the fifth weekend of 2018.
The vacant WBA Continental cruiserweight title is on the line for these 200-pounders, so the winner not only gets bagging rights but also a world ranking with the World Boxing Association.
From the outset, I would say that Rio 2016 Olympian is the better fighter in all departments. He has a devilishly fast jab, is an incredible counter-puncher, and exceptionally good at range.
Chamberlain is more experienced in the paid ranks than his bitter rival and his been involved in a 10-rounder already when he won the Southern Area cruiserweight title incapacitated with a dislocated shoulder back in September 2016.
This will be his third fight at the O2 Arena so he is no stranger to the big occasion. He has improved since the 10-round thriller with Wadi Camacho, so this should make for a closely-contended championship contest.
However, I still feel that the former Team GB boxer from Hackney is operating at a higher quality than the Brixton boy, who is trained by his famous uncle, Ted Bami.
I know that “Chambo” has been to the Ukraine to spar with the world’s no.1 cruiserweight, Oleksandr Usyk, in preparation for this bout, but I have personally watched Okolie’s closed doors sparring sessions with heavyweight sensation Daniel Dubois.
For me, Chamberlain’s style will find him hit often by his opponent’s sharp jabs and quick counter-punching. He likes to hang his hands by his hips and that will not be a good idea against someone as razor sharp as Okolie. Even when Chamberlain dropped Ossie Jervier in his last fight, he got caught flush with a right hook on his way down.
It’s a great fight, heightened in excitement and exposure by the ongoing war of words and genuine bad blood between the pair, but I have Okolie winning by stoppage in this one.