Lawrence Okolie has spoken out this week about how his relationship currently stands with Matchroom, insisting things are ‘alright’ after he was ordered to face a mandatory challenger by the WBO.
Whilst Okolie did admit to IFL TV that his business relationship with Eddie Hearn has deteriorated, he was keen to point out that there wasn’t animosity.
“I think [the relationship] is alright if I’m honest with you. We have a purse bid, so whoever wins it, wins it. Obviously there’s been a lot of stuff that’s gone on behind the scenes. But if you talk about Matchroom, over the years I’ve got to know all of the staff very well, from the drivers to everyone in the organisation. So, yeah, I love Matchroom.”
“Me and Eddie had a good business relationship. It’s sort of broken down, but when we speak it’s not ‘F you, I hate you'” It’s just obviously he’s a business man, he has his ideas about what he wants to do with a business. I’m a boxer, and I have ideas about what I want to do about my career, and that’s it really.”
Having said that, things did seem relatively cold. On going public with the spat, he said it was due to not being able to reach Hearn personally.
“It came from the fact that I couldn’t speak to him [Eddie Hearn]. There was barriers set up by him, lawyers, and the whole time this stuff’s happening, I’m being sent legal letters saying you can’t speak, you this, you that.”
The champion then offered some more details about the breakdown between the parties, saying that he ‘couldn’t explain’ how bad it made him feel.
“This is the long and short of it. I’ve got a new deal that I’ve come and I’ve presented. I said ‘Matchroom, you don’t even need to match these numbers, you just need to get close, and I’ll stay with you.’
[Matchroom said] ‘Absolutely not. No chance. This is it. If you want to take that fancy new deal, you’re going to have to pay my company £500,000.’
When you hear that, then you also hear legal letters, and ‘you can’t speak’, and ‘we’re gonna sue you.’ … I can’t explain how it felt because I haven’t felt like that in a long, long time.”
Okolie has not fought since his February win over Michael Cieslak due to a dispute with Matchroom over his current contractual situation, with the cruiserweight world champion reportedly keen to make the switch to Sky Sports and Boxxer.
Hearn said in a recent interview ‘The Big Sauce’ had received a lucrative offer from the rival promoter, however Matchroom doubled down and insisted he still had one fight remaining on his current deal.
Unheralded Australian David Light was called by the WBO as mandatory for Okolie’s world title, with purse bids due to take place on December 14th. Little is known about Light, although by all accounts he was very fortunate to be awarded the victory in a final eliminator against Brandon Glanton.