Lawrence Okolie pitched a near-shutout against David Light to retain his WBO cruiserweight championship in Manchester on Saturday night. Cards of 116-112 and 117-110 looked a tad generous towards the New Zealander, with the 119-108 score better reflecting Okolie’s dominance.
Despite the resounding victory, there remains questions to answer for the Hackney man. Okolie dominated but rarely dazzled, pounding out a workmanlike victory against a fighter many backed him to blow away. Perhaps that assessment is a little unfair considering Light had never lost before. But considering it was the first time the challenger had mixed at this level, and he scarcely looked like laying a glove on Okolie, a stoppage is not an unreasonable expectation.
As we posited before the bout, now is the time for Okolie to seek out big fights. Light was a mandatory challenger and thus a necessary evil, but at 30 years of age, Okolie cannot waste his physical prime on B and C-level opposition. Former two-time world champion Krzysztof Glowacki, who he beat to claim the belt, is the only standout name on his 19-fight record.
Okolie is part of Britain’s hottest division. A fight with Richard Riakporhe has long been touted while Chris Billam-Smith would make for an exciting challenger. Unification bouts with Jai Opetaia and Badou Jack would sell too. The potential is there for ‘The Sauce’ to show what he’s made of. Let’s hope that his next fight is a big one.
Give it up to @Benavidez300 & @SweetHandsPlant 🙌
Elsewhere on Saturday, David Benavidez picked up a rewarding victory over Caleb Plant at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The WBC interim super middleweight title scrap ended in a unanimous decision victory for ‘The Mexican Monster’, who started slowly before taking the play away from Plant in the later rounds.
The pair had shared a vicious and bitter grudge going into the bout, but the pair buried the hatchet in the aftermath. Benavidez paid tribute to Plant and his efforts, before turning his attention to an illustrious countryman. Benavidez is targeting undisputed super middleweight boss and Mexican icon Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez for his next fight.
One of the biggest fights that can be made in the sport, the unbeaten Benavidez meeting this generation’s defining fighter in ‘Canelo’ is mouthwatering for many reasons. Could we see a changing of the guard at both the weight and in the country of Mexico? We’ll have to wait for ‘Canelo’ to get past John Ryder in May before we find out.
There was also a big victory for former super lightweight champion Jose Ramirez, who returned from a one-year lay-off to knock out Richard Commey. Ramirez, who lost to Scotland’s Josh Taylor in 2021, stopped the former IBF lightweight champion in the 11th round. Now the Californian is targeting a world title showdown with WBC super lightweight champion Regis Prograis.
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change