British and Commonwealth cruiserweight champion Lawrence Okolie takes another step up in his (13-0, 10 Ko’s) career when he challenges unbeaten European champion Yves Ngabu for his title on the undercard of Josh Taylor vs Regis Prograis at the O2 Arena in London on October 26th. The fight will be streamed live in the USA by DAZN and televised in the UK on Sky Sports.
Taking on an unbeaten European champion in only your 14th professional outing might seem risky but thus far the former 2016 Rio Olympian hasn’t truly been tested even though he has picked up the British and Commonwealth crowns.
His British title-winning effort over Blackpool’s Matty Askin was his toughest assignment to date, and it has to be said, it was hard to watch. The Hackney native won on a unanimous decision but won over very few fans in the process. Okolie has what could be described as an awkward style. At 6’ 5” tall he carries serious power in both hands but his style is ‘herky-jerky’ and not always pleasing on the eye. He reminds me of the former British and Commonwealth light-heavyweight champion Peter Oboh who looked awful at times but was very effective.
Another win of note was his wide point’s win over fellow unbeaten prospect Isaac Chamberlain from Brixton in only his 8th outing. This was a 50/50 matchup that many in the trade were surprised to see happening at this stage of their careers. But Okolie dominated the fight scoring knockdowns in the 1st and 6th rounds.
Okolie recently switched trainers and now works with Shane Mcguigan at his new training facility in Canterbury, Kent. If McGuigan can get Okolie boxing in a more traditional style it would make promoter Eddie Hearn’s job a lot easier as a lot of Okolie’s peers will want to avoid his difficult style.
Champion, Yves Ngabu from Roeselare in Belgium has never boxed outside his home country before but has been training under the watchful eye of world renowned coach Dominic Ingle in Sheffield so is in tune with British boxing and Okolie’s career.
Ngabu is going to be giving away height and reach to Okolie but when he gets inside he lets his hands go in impressive bursts of well-placed punches so the tall Hackney man will need to grab and hold after he has fired off his long jab and right hand.
Ngabu scored the best win of his (20-0, 14 Ko’s) career in his last fight when he defended his EBU crown for the second time against Denmark’s Micki Nielsen. Ngabu scored a comfortable points decision against a well regarded opponent.
The big problem Ngabu will have against the gangling Okolie is being on the outside of his long jab. Ngabu tends to stay a bit upright before moving his head on the way inside, this will leave Okolie with the opportunity to pick off the shorter Belgian. Okolie has very good footwork and could make it easy on himself if he can keep Ngabu at distance.
Ngabu has plenty of drive and appears to fancy the job, but, he will find himself frustrated when he is constantly grabbed as he gets inside. He looks dangerous when he lets his hands go so Okolie must negate that by holding.
I can see another long night ahead in a fight that might not entertain the crowd.
Prediction: Okolie to win a wide points decision.