Lawrence Okolie targets Mairis Briedis unification clash after Michal Cieslak win

  • Tom Ward
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Lawrence Okolie wants to take Mairis Briedis‘ IBF and Ring cruiserweight belts after defeating Michal Cieslak on Sunday.

Okolie, 29, retained his WBO title following a comprehensive points win over Cieslak at the O2 Arena in London and immediately turned his attention to Briedis who sat ringside.

Latvian Briedis won the belts after a majority-decision win over Yuniel Dorticos in September 2020.

Okolie told Matchroom Boxing’s YouTube channel: “I think I’m happy to get the win.

“It felt very scrappy, it was very tough.

“The guy is a top fighter, eighth currently in the world right now, so he was good, he had a lot of grit.

“I boxed well at times, I dropped him at times, however it was very, very physical, very dirty, a lot of shots to the back of the head.

“After it got to maybe round six I thought, ‘You know what, I’m going to have to grit it out and get the win.'”

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 27: Lawrence Okolie celebrates victory with his team after the WBO World Cruiserweight Title fight between Lawrence Okolie and Michal Cieslak at The O2 Arena on February 27, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

Okolie is unbeaten in 18 professional bouts and a unification fight would appeal to streaming service DAZN, who last week reported eye-watering losses of $1.3 billion in 2020.

However, Briedis must first get past Jai Opetaia who has won 17 of his 21 fights by knockout.

The British star was vocal before the fight that he wanted a clash with Briedis next, and following the victory over Cieslak, he’s again called him out for a showdown.

Asked if he wants to fight Briedis next, he replied: “Yeah, I think that’s the type of fight you’ll see the best out of myself.

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 27: Lawrence Okolie punches Michal Cieslak during the WBO World Cruiserweight Title fight between Lawrence Okolie and Michal Cieslak at The O2 Arena on February 27, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

“He’s not going to come to smother, he likes to box long, he believes in his power, so it should be a good fight.”

Okolie admitted he was disappointed with his performance in victory over Cieslak but was pleased to get the 12 rounds under his belt.

But he insists Cieslak also deserves a lot of credit for making it a scrappy affair.

“I think it’s a bit more experience for me,” he added.

“This guy was a good fighter.

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“The way I was throwing the right hand I was looping it but I think I needed to bring it a bit more straight but he was coming back with good hooks.

“I think it was very similar to Askins, hopefully not as bad in terms of the performance, but definitely in terms of the physicality and someone finding a way to get under the shots and graft.

“Like I said I need to watch it back but, you know, I wasn’t as clinical as I would have liked, but I’m happy I got the 12 rounds.

“I don’t think I lost many rounds but some of the rounds were closer than I would have liked them to be.”

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