There have been many examples – in years gone by – of all-British grudge matches taking too long to take place – or not taking place at all – but with a sudden injection of promoters taking more risks with their unbeaten boxers’ records, the pairing of two prospects with under 10 wins on their ledger is becoming a common theme.
And not a moment too late will Cruiserweights Lawrence Okolie and Isaac Chamberlain enter the ring together on Saturday (3rd February) night.
The pair have said their piece on social media, on and off the cameras, now it is time to settle the dispute and project the winner towards British or Commonwealth title scraps.
Okolie 7-0(6KO’s) is the touted of the two Londoners. His amateur experience took him all the way to the Rio Olympics, and now the well-built fighter is ready to follow in the footsteps of many fighters from the preceding Olympic Games.
Okolie has barraged through a host of young opposition, only once going the long haul in a 6 rounder last September. This scheduled 12-rounder could see Okolie nearly match the total number of rounds he has fought thus far in his career.
There will be no such concerns for Chamberlain 9-0(4KO’s) who’s slightly tougher route has seen him voguer into the 10-round distance with a dislocated shoulder. That grit he showed when beating well-capable Wadi Camacho will hold him in great stead for this upcoming fight.
He also halted a Russ Henshaw who was unbeaten at the time – has since spiralled into a losing rhythm, including one against Okolie. Then there was the stoppage last time out against Ossie Jervier – a man who went the distance with Camacho.
But for that added experience in the pro ranks, it may count for nothing against the physical advantages that Okolie carries into the ring. Already a sizeable Cruiser, Okolie can make this a fight in which he sets the pace from the offset.
That is something that Chamberlain must interrupt if he is to make this a competitive bout.
Okolie’s chin will be tested for the first time in a pro contest, and should he successfully come through that assessment, then the likelihood is that the Hackney man will come out on top.
Chamberlain will box off the back foot from the offset, but expect him to have success with his long reach that can disrupt the more methodical rhythm of the favourite.
But once the pressure is applied enough, Chamberlain will have to dig deep and here his attacks will become opportunities for Okolie to inflict punishment.
Chamberlain has the heart to go the distance, but in a high paced 12-rounder he won’t have the engine. Dropped on two or three occasions late on, Chamberlain will be saved by the referee in the 10th.
On the undercard, Ted Cheeseman 12-0(8KO’s) faces a decent overseas test when Carson Jones makes his return to the UK.
Jones 40-12-3(30KO’s) has pushed Kell Brook to the brink and halted Brian Rose in one round – both rematches where heavily dominated by his opponents.
Ben Hall was the last Brit to face Jones, and he was halted in the 6th.
It is hard to gauge what motivation Jones has left, but he seemed to be robbed of victory against the disgraced former boxing juggernaut Antonio Margarito when the contest was stopped on cuts in the 7th, a point in which Jones was taking over the fight.
Cheeseman’s power has helped him develop a reputation as a puncher at British level, but halting Jones will prove a very tough ask.
If Jones fails to bring the correct intensity into the O2 Arena then he will be dominated from bell to bell in a shutout, but the pick is for Cheeseman to be forced to call on all his youth to win a close but fair point’s decision.
Reece Bellotti 11-0(10KO’s) has yet to be troubled when steadily stepping up his level of opposition, and the same is likely when Ben Jones 22-6-1(10KO’s) takes the second straight shot at the Commonwealth Featherweight crown.
Jones has twice been halted in the opening round, but prior to a split decision defeat to Jason Cunningham, the Sussex man was on a role.
He may not be used to hearing it, but the final bell is likely to toll as Jones hustles his way through some sticky patches only for Watford’s Bellotti to roll out a comfortable point’s winner.