Saturday, June 10, 2023  |



Rusty Ring No. 1 Lawrence Okolie fails to dazzle in defence against tough David Light

WBO cruiserweight titlist Lawrence Okolie (right) vs. David Light. Photo credit: Lawrence Lustig/Boxxer
Fighters Network

Lawrence Okolie, The Ring’s No. 1 cruiserweight, retained his WBO title with a straightforward if often dull 12 round decision over New Zealand’s David Light.

Okolie gave his performance at the Manchester Arena a five or six out of 10 and said he felt rusty after a year out of the ring.

“Very tough,” Okolie said of Light. “I just couldn’t get the last shot to stop him because he was very tough and with the time out of the ring it was tough to get my timing.”

Okolie, having his first fight with new trainer Sugar Hill in the corner, started well, landing occasional rights to the body, beneath Light’s left elbow. Okolie also probed out his left hand, keeping Light at bay.

The New Zealand challenger was finding it hard to get inside Okolie’s long arms but he was also not getting hit by much.

Light’s left side was starting to redden from Okolie’s right hand work but Okolie was boxing within himself. Still, the champion wasn’t gambling with anything, but he didn’t need to because he was running away with it on the scorecards.

In the seventh round, with the crowd muted, referee Bob Williams told both to stop holding, Light complained about a couple of low blows and the fight was not easy on the eye.

When Light tried to close the distance in the eighth, Okolie claimed him and there was a smattering of boos from the crowd.

It was a messy affair and far from the start Okolie would have wanted for his debut on Sky Sports or with Hill in his first fight since leaving both Matchroom and trainer Shane McGuigan. Light tried to get going in the ninth but walked onto Okolie’s stiff jab a couple of times.

Okolie broke through with big shots in the 10th and somehow Light weathered the storm for several clean blows landing seconds apart from each other. Plenty of others who have been hit by those Okolie shots had been put over and out by them, but Light bit down, rode at the storm and fought back.

Okolie was deducted a point in the 11th and when they resumed hostilities Light was buckled by some terrific shots, a right hand and a right uppercut, but again he saw the round out.

Light did well to last the course but Okolie had done enough without having to move through the gears, retaining his title on all three cards by scores of 116-112, 119-108 and 117-110.

Okolie is now 19-0 (15), Light lost for the first time in 21 outings.

Great Britain’s 2020 super-heavyweight Olympic bronze medallist Frazer Clarke might well have broken Bogdan Dinu’s ribs on his way to a stoppage win after two rounds.

Dinu told his corner he couldn’t continue before round three when it had seemed Clarke would get some rounds under his belt.

Clarke picked up a cut on his forehead from a clash of heads and that might cause a delay to his imminent progress.

Clarke is now 6-0 with five stoppages.

Featherweight contender Kariss Artingstall, another 2020 GB Olympic bronze medallist, improved to 3-0 with a 60-55 points win over Bolton’s Linzi Buczynsky and in an anticipated grudge match Michael Gomez Jr, who pushed Levi Giles to the floor at yesterday’s weigh in, won a close split decision over Giles but was pushed all the way in a close fight over 10 rounds.

Gomez, who won the English super-featherweight title with the victory, won by margins of 97-93 and 97-94 with the third judge scoring for Giles by 96-95.