Hackney star feels Brixton rival has played down his Olympic achievement
Lawrence Okolie says he will make ‘jealous’ Isaac Chamberlain pay for disrespecting his amateur achievements when they clash at The O2 on Saturday night, live on Sky Sports.
Okolie represented Team GB at the Rio games in 2016 before turning pro with Matchroom Boxing under the management of Anthony Joshua’s AJ BXNG.
Chamberlain has been vocal about Okolie’s amateur success in the build-up to the clash, downplaying the Hackney talent’s journey that took him from flipping burgers in McDonald’s to amateur success and the 7-0 record he puts on the line in Greenwich.
“The rivalry on his side stems from jealousy,” said Okolie. “They say that they've been watching me since I went to the Olympics as we've known each other a long time. They see me as a big money fight and here it is – we'll see if it's too early for him or too early for me.
“Can Isaac take my power? Can Isaac take me into the later rounds? We're all going to find out the reality. I see boxing in a different way to most people. Isaac is a good fighter, he’s fast, good boxing IQ and he's resilient, but I don't see that being enough as I am going to get to him and get to him viciously.
“People in Isaac's gym know what it takes to get into the Olympics because they didn't get there. He has never taken a risk as an amateur or a professional. He's been the a-side in all of his fights and all bar two of his opponents have come in off a loss. He's done nothing to show levels of pedigree, he's had a life-or-death with Wadi Camacho at Southern Area level.
“They say that everything has been given to me. I get the praise and attention because of what I did in the amateurs and the performances I've put in as a pro. If I'd been putting in the performances in the pros that he has, I wouldn't get this attention.
“I dislike what Isaac represents, it's a cult of Cruiserweights who are active, come together on social media and backing each other up to talk down to me, "so what he was in the Olympics he's rubbish" blah blah, they discredit everything I have done.
“They say I've had an easy ride, but Eddie Hearn didn't come to Hackney and take me out of McDonalds, take me to Team GB then take me to Rio for the Olympics.
“Team GB didn't say ‘only 10 GB fighters can go to Brazil and only 16 fighters can fight in the tournament at each weigh - but do you know what, we're going to give you the golden ticket and you don't have to qualify or work hard’.
“The reality is, I've worked so hard to get me and it annoys me that he and his team have disrespected what I've achieved and how hard I've worked to get here and how hard I will work to get to where I want to be.”
Chamberlain and Okolie clash on a huge night of action in Greenwich as Watford’s Reece Bellotti puts his Commonwealth Featherweight title on the line for the first time against Crawley’s Ben Jones.
Rising Essex force Ted Cheeseman faces a real step-up in international class against a familiar face in Carson Jones, the Oklahoma man who twice met former Welterweight World ruler Kell Brook and Brian Rose, and won on his most recent visit, stopping Ben Hall last November and comes into the fight after facing modern great Antonio Margarito in September.
Team GB Rio Olympian Joshua Buatsi laces them up for a fourth time in the paid ranks, Paul Butler gets valuable rounds as he hunts a shot at the WBA World Bantamweight crown, former World title challenger Charlie Edwards looks to get back on the road to major honours, and Felix Cash is full of confidence after moving to 7-0 with a second successive first round KO win last week and is looking to land a first title shot at Middleweight in 2018.
Limited tickets remain on general sale at www.theO2.co.uk priced at £40.
Face value tickets for February 3 are available from http://www.stubhub.co.uk/matchroom-boxing-tickets/ . StubHub is the official ticket partner and marketplace of Matchroom Boxing and Anthony Joshua.