Boxing Preview – Luke Watkins v Lawrence Okolie

‘The Duke’ versus ‘The Sauce’ – Luke Watkins (13-0) puts up his Commonwealth cruiserweight title and Lawrence Okolie (8-0) offers up his WBA Continental strap that he won against Isaac Chamberlain in his previous bout last February.

The Rio 2016 Olympian from Hackney has a great range, tall frame with long reach, and still has that excellent amateur pedigree, evident to see from his footwork.

Despite the frustration from fans in that last fight, Okolie boxed well behind his jab and utilised his superior reach and managed to deck the awkward Chamberlain twice and win by a wide unanimous points decision. The first knockdown in the opener was from a stiff jab which tells you all you need to know about the South Londoner’s power.

Watkins will provide Okolie with his biggest career test, but I believe it will be just that – a test. I don’t think he can match Okolie’s skillset.

Respected trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick has taken his undefeated protégé all the way from the amateurs to the pros and knows what game plan will work against the former Olympian, but Watkins could find himself up against a superior opponent in nearly every department.

He is a boxer-puncher, likes to use his legs, boxes well on the inside, but he will likely cop a few trying to get in close with Okolie and I don’t think that he will be able to withstand that power when it lands.

Latvian journeyman Reinis Porozovs (5-6-1) managed to floor Watkins in their 2016 meeting and ruffled his feathers a bit, but Watkins showed his class by getting his revenge in the same round and ending matters three-rounds later.

Despite being at the York Hall, a setting that Watkins has appeared and triumphed in three times already, Okolie has the big fight experience under his belt after his headlining fight at The O2 in just his seventh outing.

The venue will inspire confidence in the Swindon puncher, however, having landed his Commonwealth title there against unbeaten Robin Dupre (12-0) in his 12th pro fight last October.

Both fighters enter the bout as unbeaten champions. Okolie kicked off his pro career with four first-round knockouts but was taken the distance in his last fight. Watkins doesn’t boast any first-round finishes but has ended his last four fights early against a reasonable standard of competition.


Luke Watkins last five fights:

WIN vs Mike Stafford (16-3) – RTD 8

WIN vs Robin Dupre (12-0) – TKO 6

WIN vs Ian Tims (13-3) – KO 4

WIN vs Jiri Svacini (12-22) – TKO 4

WIN vs Dmitrij Kalinovskij (9-22-2) – PTS 6

Lawrence Okolie last five fights:

WIN vs Isaac Chamberlain (9-0) – PTS 10

WIN vs Antonio Sousa (4-6-1) – TKO 2

WIN vs Adam Williams (1-1) – TKO 3

WIN vs Blaise Mendouo (3-3) – PTS 6

WIN vs Russ Henshaw (7-5) – TKO 1

I think Watkins will be wary of Okolie’s skill and power, especially with his instructions from ‘The Man in the Hat’ in his corner, but I also expect him to approach the fight as the champion with the utmost assurance in his ability.

Because of that, I think he will be open to Okolie’s patient and accurate attacks. With no disrespect to Wakins whatsoever, I expect an early finish from Okolie, possibly even within the first three-rounds.

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