Former cruiserweight champion Okolie set to move up

Promoter Ben Shalom says former Olympian and WBO cruiserweight world champion Lawrence Okolie is set to switch weights.

Okolie has not featured since his world title defeat to Chris Billam-Smith in May last year. He suffered four knockdowns and two point deductions for holding on his way to the first defeat of his career by majority decision. 

Billam-Smith, who inked a new promotional agreement with Shalom's Boxxer, included a clause to hand Okolie a rematch for his WBO world title. 

However, Okolie is set for a change of direction. Shalom suggested the former champion could decide his days at cruiserweight are over and move up to the bridgerweight division for an immediate world title opportunity before a further switch up to the heavyweight division.

"I think we're going to look to move up to heavyweight or fight immediately for a world title at bridgerweight," Shalom told Sky Sports.

"I think he's looking very seriously at the heavyweight division, possibly bridgerweight first, and I think that's where we'll see Lawrence in the latter stages of his career.

Shalom said that Okolie had long-standing weight issues, making the 200lbs cruiserweight weight limit. 

"The reason his performances haven't been at the level he was used to is, I think, his weight, as a 6ft 6ins guy,” Shalom stated. “This is a personal opinion, but especially at that top level, [that] was getting in the way of his very best performances.

"He's a talented fighter, so I think the story hasn't even begun for Lawrence Okolie. Cast your mind back to cruiserweights Oleksandr Usyk and David Haye and people that have made their legacy in the heavyweight division. He's a lot bigger than those guys. His frame's a lot bigger; he's had to work extremely hard to do what he's done in the cruiserweight division sometimes fighters don't talk about the struggles they go through.

"The Lawrence Okolie story is just about to begin and I think it's going to be at a weight division that suits where he's at."