In the very arena where Marvin Hagler was crowned undisputed world middleweight champion 41 years ago, Lawrence Okolie produced a crushing display to lift the vacant WBO cruiserweight title as he flattened Krzysztof Glowacki with a big right hand.
There had been the traditional ten bells for Hagler, who had died last weekend at the age of 66, before the boxers entered what is now known as the SSE Arena, Wembley.
Perhaps it was more moving as the tribute took place in the very building where Minter rose to the top of the middleweight tree by beating Alan Minter, before he was forced to make a speedy exit as a group of Minter’s supporters hurled bottles at the ring.
Okolie has a long, long way to go before he can be spoken about in the same breath as Hagler, but there is no knocking this performance.
On the biggest night of his career so far, against the best, and most experienced, opponent he has faced, Okolie dominated, thumping the resistance out of Glowacki inside six rounds.
Winning a world title in just 16 fights is no mean achievement and Okolie is improving all the time. When he first turned professional, he looked one-dimensional, relying too much on power and struggling when things didn’t work out.
But under Shane McGuigan, he is turning into a better all-round fighter. The big right hand is still the main weapon, but against a wily campaigner like Glowacki, he was able to control matters with his jab and walk the two-time WBO champion onto his shots. Glowacki barely landed a handful of punches.
The talk will now be of quick unifications. That is what Okolie wants, although Eddie Hearn, his promoter, might try to push a couple of domestic matches against Northern Ireland’s European champion Tommy McCarthy and fellow Londoner Richard Riakporhe, the British champion, his way. Okolie is not one to stand still, however, and has a bit of star potential in him.
Glowacki soon found he had nothing to hurt Okolie with. He crouched low and advanced throughout, but he struggled to reach Okolie, let alone catch him. Early on, Okolie was happy to take pot shots with his right, some of which landed on top of the Pole’s head before he switched the target to the body. Glowacki lunged in and landed with one decent left, but his output was minimal.
The second round was more on the same – Glowacki edged forward, Okolie threw a lead right, which often got through. When the former champion got close, he tries to maul Okolie and was warned by referee Marcus McDonnell for using the head.
Okolie landed a good right early in the third, but he was content to keep Glowacki on the end of his jab and wait for openings.
Glowacki edged closer in the fourth, forcing Okolie to be more active. But he soon landed a big right that stopped Glowacki in his tracks for long enough for Okolie to land another two. Glowacki held and received another warning for rabbit punching, but Okolie was warming to the task.
Okolie was also now using his jab more, which he used to maneuver Glowacki around rather than as a simple range-finder. Glowacki was so frustrated that he threw a wild shot at Okolie well after the bell had sounded.
The end came in the sixth. Glowacki showed a lot more upper body movement, as he tried to get inside, but Okolie landed a crushing right that flipped Glowacki on his back.
He lay there until the count reached six, when he tried to regain his feet. He made it up at nine but turned away from referee McDonnell and tried to make it to his corner on unsteady legs. McDonnell waved it off. The time was 0:46 of the sixth round.
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