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Okolie vs Light: Anniversary return for The Sauce

Okolie vs Light: Anniversary return for The Sauce

'Light's Out' or can the unbeaten Kiwi shock the world?

LAWRENCE Okolie returns to Manchester Arena for the first time since making his professional debut exactly six years ago to defend his cruiserweight world title on Saturday night.

Fresh from carrying the GB flag into the ring at the Rio Olympic Games, Okolie debuted on March 25th 2017 with a 20-second knockout performance that promised so much.

And whilst many fighters fail to live up to the reputations built on amateur success, Okolie has spent the last six years proving that talent and hard work combined are a lucrative and unstoppable force inside the ropes.

Unbeaten in 18 fights, with 14 knockouts, Hackney’s now 30-year-old champion has won everything there is to win. British, Commonwealth, European and world honours have crowned his career as one of the very best in present day British boxing.

And, of course, Okolie isn’t showing any signs of slowing down yet. His cruiserweight unification ambitions are matched with aspirations to switch up to heavyweight in the very near future.

Standing six-foot-five, Okolie has the frame for the glamour division. But he’s got a little unfinished business down at 200lb first.

This weekend he’s facing his mandatory contender, an unbeaten challenger deemed the most deserving by the governing body which hails Okolie as their champion.

Kiwi David Light is in Manchester on merit. He’s not been hand-picked; he’s forced his shot by climbing the rankings during his own punch-perfect 20-0 career.

A former New Zealand amateur international, Light competed at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, earning a silver medal. But failed to qualify for the Rio Games the following year.

Standing six-foot-one, the 31-year-old from Aukland will have a clear physical disadvantage when the first bell goes. But he’s used to being the underdog and – unlikely Okolie – has been very active over the past 12 months.

In 2022, Light won three times and finally fought outside of Australasia, picking up two wins Stateside that skyrocketed his ranking and led to this weekend’s title opportunity.

The first of those wins was against Anthony Martinez too, a six-five prospect out of Miami – who Light smashed up inside one round.

With a solid jab, powerful right hand and tidy defence, Light is a true test, especially as Okolie has been inactive for 13 months following an acrimonious split from his former promoter and broadcaster.

Light is a solid operator, orthodox and strong in his approach. But Okolie has that special sauce – hence the nickname – that sets him apart from the rest.

He is unorthodox, whips in his shots with those long arms and really throws with intent. He’s evolved to become truly box office.

Okolie has also teamed up with Tyson Fury’s coach SugarHill Steward, who’s boxing brain can only mean even more in the arsenal of the champion.

Expect Light not to be intimidated by the home crowd and start strong. But once Okolie finds his range and starts to really let them go, the big Kiwi is going to be too easy to hit – especially on the inside.

Happy Anniversary Lawrence. And still.





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Nick Peet
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