Lawrence Okolie has the first real acid test of his pro career, as he takes on the tried and tested former two-time world champion, Krzysztof Glowacki for the vacant WBO Cruiserweight title at the SSE Arena on Saturday, live on Sky Sports and DAZN.
Okolie (15-0, 12 KOs) and Glowacki (31-2, 19 KOs) were set to clash for the belt in December, however the Pole tested positive for COVID-19 leaving the Brit to fight late replacement, Nikodem Jezewski, who he stopped in two rounds.
‘The Sauce’ has blown hot and cold during a 15-fight career that began in March 2017, with dominant wins sandwiched between absolute stinkers, with his points wins over Isaac Chamberlain and Matty Askin particularly forgettable affairs.
His last few fights though have seen him assert his dominance much more, and he is currently on a run of five straight stoppage victories. He has already secured British, Commonwealth and European crowns, so the logical next step was always world honours.
In Glowacki though, the Hackney man will be facing a hardened campaigner with a wealth of experience.
The 34-year-old won the WBO title in August 2015, knocking out long-serving champion, Marco Huck, in eleven rounds. After a defence against Steve Cunningham, Glowacki was competitive in shipping his belt to Oleksandr Usyk in a points loss.
The Pole was elevated to WBO champion after an interim title win against Maxim Vlasov in November 2018, and he was last seen in June 2019, losing the belt in three rounds in a bad-tempered stoppage defeat to Mairis Briedis.
Prediction: Okolie will need to utilise his attributes to his advantage here,with Glowacki, a wily old pro and experienced at the top level. I think the Pole will want to stamp his authority early, but Okolie can take over from the middle rounds onwards to secure a comfortable enough points win.
Billam-Smith returns against Ducar
Another Cruiserweight prospect sees action on the undercard, as Bournemouth’s Chris Billam-Smith faces replacement Vasil Ducar (9-3-1, 8 KOs) over a scheduled ten rounds, with the vacant WBA Continental title on the line.
‘The Gentleman’, who holds the Commonwealth strap was scheduled to face Deion Jumah, with the vacant British belt on the line, however the Londoner was forced to pull out with an eye injury.
Billam-Smith (11-1, 10 KOs), a stablemate of Okolie is a man to keep an eye on, and has only been defeated by Richard Riakporhe in a tight split loss in July 2019.
Prediction: He should have way too much for Ducar, but the Czech hasn’t previously been stopped, and has been twelve rounds twice. I fancy Billam-Smith to score a win before halfway.
Fowler faces Fortea
At Super Welterweight, Anthony Fowler is back in action, and the Liverpudlian defends his WBA International belt against tough Spaniard, Jorge Fortea over ten.
Fowler (13-1, 10 KOs) was last out in Fight Camp in August 2020, hammering Adam Harper in seven, while Fortea (21-2-1, 7 KOs) scored a fifth round retirement win against Kelly Figueroa in Spain in October 2020.
Prediction: Fowler should retain widely on the cards.
Cordina meets Kourbanov
Joe Cordina (11-0, 7 KOs) hopes to make waves in 2021, and his first outing of the year sees him in with Faroukh Kourbanov (17-2, 3 KOs) over ten at Super Featherweight.
The Welshman hasn’t fought since 2019, with a hand injury keeping him on the sidelines, and he returns here against a man never previously stopped, and only defeated in tilts at EU and European titles.
Prediction: Cordina will want rounds, so should settle for a points win.
A Middleweight eight rounder sees two unbeatens paired together. Bradley Rea (9-0, 3 KOs) meets Lee Cutler (7-0, 4 KOs).
Prediction: Rea should be able to take this one on the scorecards.
Two Featherweight six rounders round off the card, with two females looking to make it 2-0.
Ramla Ali (1-0) should take a competitive points win against the tough Bec Connolly (3-8), and Ellie Scotney (1-0), who overcame Connolly on debut, is up against France’s Mailys Gangloff (4-1, 1 KO) with a points win expected for the Londoner.