Lawrence Okolie cruised by his bitter rival Isaac Chamberlain with a wide points victory and claimed the WBA continental cruiserweight title in London at the O2.
The fight had been billed as a serious grudge match and the build-up had seen fireworks from both men, who made no secret of their long-running feud.
Chamberlain and Okolie both got a fierce welcome and the latter injected some extra energy into crowd by walking out to ‘Man’s Not Hot’.
Anthony Joshua sat ringside in his first co-promotion fight, and the stage was set for an all-British blockbuster.
But, it was to be a difficult night to bear for Joshua and his prodigy, as spectators were treated to a fight more wrestling than boxing.
Okolie came out strong and dropped Chamberlain with his first big right. Chamberlain gave his rival a nod of acknowledgment as he quickly got up.
Chamberlain was then pushed to the canvas by Okolie moments later, and easily took the first round.
The second went against Chamberlain too as the referee penalised him for holding onto Okolie. Chamberlain was doing all he could to survive Okolie’s early storm, but was continually being caught moving in.
It was a similar story in the third and Chamberlain’s corner were screaming at their fighter to stop waiting for Okolie to make his move. They wanted more aggression from Chamberlain, urging him to ‘work’, but the prospect seemed to retreating further and further into himself.
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Okolie on the win
‘Isaac tested me, this is a benchmark and I want to push on from this. I want to have a little rest, I want to box on the Anthony Joshua undercard next.
‘I knew it wouldn’t be pretty, I hurt him early. I have nothing but respect for him and his mental fortitude.
‘I’m nowhere near the finished article, there’a a lot of mental and physical work to do.’
Chamberlain’s head was down up against Okolie’s chest at every opportunity and the referee stopped the contest in the fourth round to speak to both fighters.
Okolie was often shoving Chamberlain and the referee again had a word early in the fifth. Chamberlain’s game plan was clear, he wanted to wrestle Okolie and drag him into the latter rounds.
The crowd did not like the spectacle and boos would interrupt an incredibly mute audience.
Chamberlain was knocked down again in the round six, but again was not seriously hurt. The holding from Chamberlain continued into the seventh round and at one point the 23-year-old was looking at his corner for some sort of guidance.
Okolie’s only blemish was in the ninth round when he was deduced a point for holding. The rounds where Chamberlain could have sprung a master plan came and went and the judges returned a wide points victory for Okolie.