Danny Flexen looks at the empty July 20 dance card held by British and Commonwealth cruiserweight champion Lawrence Okolie and picks some prospective partners
Lawrence Okolie was due to defend his British and Commonwealth titles against confident challenger Jack Massey on July 6 in Manchester, but when the latter sustained an injury the fight, and the entire Matchroom show, were cancelled. Okolie’s defence of his titles was swiftly moved to the July 20 Sky Box Office card headlined by Dillian Whyte vs Oscar Rivas but, a week later, no opponent has been announced for the title-holder. With top contenders Chris Billam Smith and Richard Riakporhe meeting each other on the big bill, and veteran Tony Conquest competing in Ultimate Boxxer IV later in the month, there appears to be a dearth of available and qualified opposition.
Here we pick out three challengers we’d like to see oppose the unbeaten former Olympian, Okolie.
1. Deion Jumah
The 11-0 southpaw is one of the UK’s biggest under-the-radar talents. A two-time ABA champion as an amateur who competed internationally, Londoner Jumah has been a pro since 2013 but his career has been slow burn, with two years out due to a serious heart condition. He has won three fights since returning last year, all inside the distance, and is schedule to challenge English champ Wadi Camacho, a recent Okolie victim, in September.
2. Sam Hyde
The Sale man is 14-1-1 with the only defeat a rather unfortunate one, as Riakporhe, behind on points last November, beat him via stoppage due to a severe eye injury. Hyde is talented, still only 25 and fancies the fight. His scheduled July 6 appearance was scuppered by Massey’s injury so he should be fit and on weight. Okolie seemed keen on the fight, via social media, only days ago.
3. Mark Little
The leftfield option, Little, 12-0, is from an unlicensed background but would come in fit, determined and would guarantee something you don’t always get from Okolie fights: entertainment. He is 30 and this would be a huge step up but it’s no-lose for the Romford man, who should learn from the experience regardless of the result.