Lawrence Okolie v Michal Cieslak
Live on DAZN
It's not often you'll find a major boxing event taking place in the United Kingdom on a Sunday evening, but that's what we have in store this weekend. Eddie Hearn for Matchroom Boxing presents an intriguing nine-fight card featuring some of the biggest names from his stable, including Jordan Gill, Anthony Fowler, Galal Yafai and Campbell Hatton.
Top of the bill features a cruiserweight world title fight as Lawrence Okolie defends his WBO strap against Michal Cieslak in what promises to be a thrilling contest. Both fighters involved in the main attraction believe they have what it takes to grab the win and progress their careers, but which warrior will end victorious?
The Sauce unbeaten in 17
Okolie enters fight number 18 of his professional career with a spotless record, but Hackney's world champion knows he faces his toughest assignment so far. A total of 14 wins have come inside the distance already, and if he is to score another knockout, it will catapult the 29-year-old up the world rankings and towards a unification bout with one of the division's big names.
Currently ranked as the number one cruiserweight in the UK, The Sauce sits in fifth place in the world rankings despite holding a recognised and respected version of the world championship. At the top of that list is Mairis Briedis, the big-punching Latvian with a 28-1-0 CV. That's where Okolie wants to be, and many industry insiders believe he's good enough to get there.
Will he dominate the division in 2022? He must win this weekend and do it in style if he's to stand any chance. There are no surprises in the betting available on the Betfair Exchange, with Lawrence a firm favourite to add another win to his stack. He's 1.182/11 for victory with an eighth KO/TKO on the bounce trading at 1.251/4. The points win will net you 1.68/13.
Pole here to impress
He may not be a household name amongst UK fight fans, but Cieslak is a talented fighter and a force to be reckoned with at cruiserweight. The 32-year-old from Radom, Poland arrives in England with an eye-catching 21-1-0 record, 15 KO victories. The 65% KO average is enough to ensure Team Okolie will take the challenger seriously on Sunday. Anything less than their full respect could be disastrous for the local.
The 6ft 3inch orthodox suffered his only defeat when beaten on points by the highly ranked Ilungu Junior Makabu with the vacant WBC title on the line. That bout ended in a comfortable unanimous decision for Makabu, with the scorecards awarding him the fight by five, four and two rounds. Michal responded by winning his next two by knockout, and he's now ranked 10th in the world and third in Poland.
Coming in off the back of a sixth-round KO and a first-round stoppage, there's confidence in the away dressing room, but that doesn't carry over to the betting. Cieslak is priced at 76/1 to win this bout, which explains everything. A third KO/TKO in a row is 6.611/2 with the points win even less likely, trading at a chunky 7.87/1.
Expect Okolie to shine
This bout is being pushed as a potential banana skin for Okolie, and there's no doubt his opponent's record looks good on paper. But does it stand up to scrutiny? Since losing to Makabu on points, he has won two by KO, but those wins came against opponents you'd expect him to beat.
Okolie has been impressive so far and can go all the way to the top of the division. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him mixing it at heavyweight later in his career. He'll get the job done inside the distance on Sunday.