Lawrence Okolie will make the second defence of his WBO cruiserweight world title as he takes on Michal Cieslak at the O2 Arena next Sunday.
The 6ft 5in giant of a cruiserweight won the belt with a stunning sixth-round stoppage victory over Krzysztof Glowacki in March last year, before making his first defence against Dilan Prasovic six months later, needing just three rounds to see off his opponent on the Anthony Joshua-Oleksandr Usyk undercard.
The 29-year-old, who has spoken of a potentially imminent move to the heavyweight division, was instead looking to take on IBF champion Mairis Briedis in an enticing unification showdown.
Briedis, who seems to be thinking of a different path, having called for a fight against Jake Paul, is set to defend his belt against the unbeaten Jai Opetaia, though according to reports their proposed April 6 date has been pushed back after the champion tested positive for Covid.
Cieslak, 32, has just the one defeat on his 22-fight record, suffered in 2020 against WBC champion Ilunga Junior Makabu, in what was his one and only professional fight to date outside of his home country of Poland.
With the spectacle swiftly approaching, Sportsmail takes you through everything you need to know.
Lawrence Okolie (left) will defend his WBO cruiserweight title against Michal Cieslak (right)
Okolie had instead been targeting a unification bout against IBF champion Mairis Briedis
When is Lawrence Okolie vs Michal Cieslak?
The clash between Okolie and Cieslak is scheduled to take place on Sunday, February 27 at the O2 Arena in London.
The pair are expected to walk to the ring at around 9pm for those in the UK, though that will of course depend on results beforehand.
There is also action in abundance on the undercard, with the likes of Galal Yafai, Fabio Wardley, Anthony Fowler and Campbell Hatton in action.
How to watch the fight
The fight, which will be a 12-round contest, will be broadcast live on DAZN.
It will be available to stream in over 200 countries across the globe, with Australia and New Zealand the notable exceptions.
Customers will be able to stream the fight via the app on their television, console, mobile, tablet or computer device.
Sportsmail will also be covering the fight live, so you can keep up-to-date with us.
Okolie vs Cieslak: The key stats
Height: 6ft 5in
Record: 17W, 0L, 0D
Height: 6ft 3in
Record: 21W, 1L, 0D
Okolie will be making just the second defence of his newly-gained WBO cruiserweight strap
His first defence came against Dilan Prasovic on the undercard of Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk
Fight card in full
- Lawrence Okolie vs. Michal Cieslak; WBO world cruiserweight title
- Karim Guerfi vs. Jordan Gill
- Galal Yafai vs TBA
- Fabio Wardley vs TBA
- Anthony Fowler vs. Lukasz Maciec
- Demsey McKean vs. Ariel Esteban Bracamonte
- Campbell Hatton vs. Joe Ducker
- John Hedges vs. Aleksander Nagolski
- Cheavon Clarke vs TBA
*More to follow
What’s been said?
The pair came face-to-face at the announcement press conference in January, and Okolie insisted he’s in for the toughest test of his career.
‘I believe on paper this could be one of the hardest fights,’ he said. ‘Until you actually get in the ring, you never know what someone’s got.
‘Watching Cieslak’s fights, he’s a very good technical boxer. He’s got some power and good speed. All in all, it poses to be a very good challenging fight.
‘I believe I’m going to go on to unify the division. One of the main things that we focus on and try to keep fit is mindset.
‘So I’m making sure that we practice the mind, practice the body, put yourself in interesting situations and hold yourself accountable. I’m ready for this. This is a stage that I was made for. This is a fight I was made for.’
Okolie admitted he could be in for a tough night at January’s announcement press conference
Cieslak insisted he wouldn’t have taken the fight if he didn’t believe it was one he could win
He continued: ‘As soon as a fight is made, Cieslak is the only thing I think of. I’ve got a picture of him in my room. I watched all of his interviews. I don’t understand any of them but I like to watch his mannerisms. I’ve watched all of his fights. I know him and that’s what I focus on. Michael Cieslak. After that, we can talk about everyone else.’
Michal Cieslak meanwhile insisted it’s he who will emerge victorious. ‘It’s surely a big fight for Polish boxing,’ he said. ‘I can’t wait to actually attend the fight. I’m training very hard, and I can’t wait to fight.
‘If I wasn’t sure I was going to win, I wouldn’t be here, I’ve been training since I was 13 so I’m ready to get the WBO Title.’
Okolie vs Cieslak: The odds
Having continued his rapid progression under Shane McGuigan, it comes as no surprise that Okolie is the overwhelming favourite to prevail on February 27.
The hard-hitting Londoner is the 1/10 favourite to get the win, with a draw at 25/1 and a Cieslak victory at 5/1.
*Odds as per Betfair and correct at the time of publication.