It was a case of job done for Lawrence Okolie in his win over Michal Cieslak last night.
The Londoner defended his WBO cruiserweight title with a unanimous decision which keeps his unbeaten record intact and strengthens his chances of unifying the division in the coming months.
However, the fight was spoiled by countless clinches and rabbit punches which saw referee Michael Alexander tell them both off on countless occasions.
The win was the first time in four years, since an even uglier fight against Matty Askin, that Okolie had been taken the distance.
“The last few fights it hasn’t gone deep, and he’s looked really good and brutal,” said Okolie’s promoter Eddie Hearn in the post-fight press conference.
“I feel like the back end he survived but he got clumsy and used his attributes which is his strength on the inside to lock Cieslak up and beat him convincingly. I thought Cieslak was very tough. He was hurt badly in the first round, fifth round, I think he fractured a couple of ribs as well along the way. It was a good learning experience for Lawrence.”]
Hearn believes the Cieslak fight is the type which will serve Okolie well in the future particularly should he face IBF champion Mairis Briedis in a cruiserweight unification this year.
“You’ve got to be in the ring and be in situations with elite guys like that to be able to fight and beat guys like Mairis Briedis and guys of that level.”
Hearn then added, “He [Okolie] came in too heavy to camp and he probably lost too much weight and I think he struggled in the last few rounds of that fight. I believe he can unify and can beat the other cruiserweights and hopefully Mairis Briedis can be one of those guys.
The mood from Hearn appeared to be one of a potential banana skin now out of the way and the team can move on.
“I think we all accept it wasn’t Lawrence’s best performance, but it was also his toughest fight by far and the toughest opponent of his career and he won the fight fairly comfortably.
It wasn’t pretty all of the time, but he still beat a very good cruiserweight convincingly.”