Okolie v Light - world-title fight predictions

2 months ago 36
Lawrence Okolie and David Light pose together at Thursday's news conferenceBoth WBO cruiserweight champion Okolie (left) and mandatory challenger Light are unbeaten as professionals
Venue: AO Arena, Manchester Date: Saturday, 25 March
Coverage: Radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live from 22:00 GMT; live text coverage and reaction on BBC Sport website & app from 21:30 GMT

Briton Lawrence Okolie defends his WBO cruiserweight world title against New Zealand's David Light in Manchester on Saturday.

Okolie - making the third defence of his belt - has won all 18 of his fights since turning professional in 2016.

But the 30-year-old Englishman has been out of the ring since beating Poland's Michal Cieslak 13 months ago.

He will be fighting with new trainer SugarHill Steward in his corner, and with promotional company Boxxer for the first time after leaving Matchroom Boxing.

Light, 31, has won all 20 of his fights and is Okolie's mandatory challenger.

BBC Sport has asked the fighters, their teams and some of boxing's biggest names for their opinions on the fight.

Okolie: "Of course a knockout is always nice, but I really want to demonstrate some of the stuff I've done in sparring. I'll get the knockout but I want to set it up the exact way I want it."

Light: "I see it playing out a number of different ways, whatever way I have to take it. I'm sure there will be adjustments during the fight. I've got to roll with the punches."

Steward: "I want to see a spectacular, sensational knockout. I want to see a big knockout from Lawrence Okolie. He's already a big puncher. The things that we worked on, I want to see him use those things to get that big knockout."

Featherweight Karriss Artingstall: "Okolie by knockout. He doesn't throw much but I think Light will be too eager and Okolie will land a backhand."

5 Live Boxing analyst Barry Jones: "After being out for so long, it's a fresh start for Okolie. A new trainer, a new beginning. I think David Light is the perfect opponent. A guy who is small and comes with his hands low. He's brave but hittable. I think with that, and the power Okolie possesses, this fight won't go beyond five rounds. Okolie will get that right hand into play very early and the finish will be very conclusive. Lawrence will move on to bigger and better things."

Olympic champion Lauren Price: "A knockout for Okolie in the middle rounds."

Boxing coach Joe Gallagher: "Lawrence has got to make a statement. I think he'll do that. No disrespect to his opponent but I think he's tailor-made for Lawrence Okolie's right hand. When the first bell goes, it's back to business for Okolie and I would be surprised if it's not over in four rounds."

Former world champion Anthony Crolla: "I'll be very interested to see how Steward has tried to implement the Kronk style on Lawrence Okolie. He likes his fighters chopping down with those big right hands. They train for the knockout. I believe we'll see Lawrence Okolie behind that jab and he detonates that right hand. By six I think it's all over."

WBO and Ring Magazine light-welterweight champion Josh Taylor: "I'm going to go with Okolie on points. I think with his awkward-to-fight style and boxing at range he'll make Light miss and frustrate him."

BBC Radio 5 Live pundit Steve Bunce: "It needs to be a new-look Lawrence Okolie because SugarHill demands that. The old Okolie would win comfortably, stopping Light in rounds eight or nine. The new Okolie might do it in a couple. I'm going Okolie inside two."

Boxxer promoter Ben Shalom: "I'd like to see a statement, like SugarHill said. That's why Lawrence is with him now - he wants to bring that to his game. But it's a dangerous fight, I just hope we get through with a win. David Light is extremely confident and believes he is here to win. That's what boxing is all about - you don't know what's going to happen. Fingers crossed Lawrence does the business."

Coach and former light-middleweight Jamie Moore: "I don't know that much about Light so it's not all that fair for me to cast judgement. What I can say is that SugarHill is a phenomenal trainer with so much experience. Okolie has got those fundamentals - the height and the reach. He probably has the physical build which is ideal for SugarHill to work with. I think he'll bring the best out of Okolie."

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