Lawrence Okolie has long been linked with a rematch with Chris Billam-Smith since their showdown last year, but it appears he will be going in a new direction with his career.
Okolie reigned as WBO cruiserweight champion from March 2021 to that clash with Billam-Smith in May 2023, but lost his belt with a majority decision defeat at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth.
A rematch was touted, but many fans voiced their displeasure about seeing it again, due to the scrappy nature of the contest, with Okolie deducted points for holding in both the fifth and seventh round.
It seems it’s now off for good, after Boxxer promoter Ben Shalom told Sky Sports that Okolie will be changing divisions, with a move to heavyweight, or even bridgerweight, on the cards.
“I think we’re going to look to move up to heavyweight or fight immediately for a world title at bridgerweight. He’s a really talented fighter and so I just think the story hasn’t even begun for Lawrence Okolie.
“The reason his performances haven’t been at the level he was used to is, I do think, the weight, as a 6’6 guy. This is personal opinion, and especially at that top level, [that] was getting in the way of his very best performances.
“Whatever people may say about his last couple of performances he’s a big name, he’s a big personality, he’s a big talent.
“But when you’re performing not at your best and you’re working that hard to make the weight, you might look back and say you know what it was a blessing in disguise. He can really let the shackles off and go again.”
As for Okolie’s rival Billam-Smith, he is all set for a showdown with another domestic foe, with a fight against Richard Riakporhe set to take place this year.
Riakporhe came out on top by split decision when the two men met back in 2019, with Billam-Smith hoping to gain revenge when he puts his WBO cruiserweight title on the line this time around.