JDNXTGEN Mid-Week Action
Lawrence Okolie will face Luke Watkins for the Commonwealth and WBA Continental Cruiserweight titles on a stacked line-up for the latest instalment of the JDNXTGEN series at York Hall, Bethnal Green on Wednesday June 6, live on Sky Sports.
Okolie landed the WBA belt in his grudge match with Isaac Chamberlain at the start of the year in front of a huge crowd at The O2 in February, flooring the Brixton man twice in his first title fight and first over a championship distance.
The unbeaten Team GB Rio Olympian now looks to add a second title to his collection in just his ninth pro outing but faces a stiff task in the face of Swindon ace Watkins.
The 28 year old landed his title with a sixth round KO win over Robin Dupre at the east London boxing mecca in October before extending his own unblemished record to 13-0 in Leicester in December with a ninth win inside the distance over Mike Stafford – and both men expect to keep add the other man’s title in a York Hall classic.
“I’m very excited to be challenging for the Commonwealth title,” said Okolie. “I’ve got one belt to my name and I want to keep on collecting honours, this is the next step.
“I’ll be honest – Watkins looks good. I’ve studied him a bit recently and you have to be respectful of his unbeaten record and style. He’s had more knockouts than I’ve had fights, we’re two unbeaten fighters putting it on the line.
“The Commonwealth title is something I visualised winning even back as an amateur. To win it in a Commonwealth Games year cycle would make it even more special. The atmosphere at York Hall will be mad, I think it will help make it a toe to toe war as the fans are right on top of you – it should make for a great night of boxing.”
“I’ll bring people to London, so expect some noise,” said Watkins. “Lawrence has some pedigree but he hasn’t showcased his ability yet, we didn’t see the best of him against Isaac but he got the win.
“They had a great build up but their styles clashed, our styles will ignite and make for a cracking fight I’m sure of it. I was supposed to have a fight in March but the freak weather caused the show to be cancelled. I’ve been deep in camp since so I’m more than prepared and will continue to work towards this.
“I was in line to fight for the European title but we let that one go, it makes business sense to pursue this one against Lawrence.”
Ted Cheeseman will defend his WBA International Super-Welterweight title against Paul Upton in the latest instalment of the JDNXTGEN series at York Hall, Bethnal Green on Wednesday June 6, live on Sky Sports.
Cheeseman landed the title in February as he stepped up in class against American dangerman Carson Jones at The O2, widely outpointing the Oklahoma native who had given Kell Brook and Brian Rose torrid times in his previous visits. That win took Cheeseman to 13-0 with eight wins inside the distance, and the 22 year old makes his first defence against a fellow unbeaten man in Upton.
The 29 year old Romford-based Irishman is in his second title fight having stopped Terry Maughan in April 2016 to land the Irish strap and Upton will aim to seize a golden opportunity to take Cheeseman’s title and end his unbeaten run, but the champion believes he’s on the cusp of massive fights in the second half of the year, providing he defeats Upton.
“There’s a lot of big fights out there and it’s all about risk and reward,” said Cheeseman. “I’ve got a great team around me and I know that they’ll make the right decisions, I’m 22, I’ve got to walk before I can run but obviously I am going to grab every opportunity put in front of me.
“Paul is an unbeaten fighter and this is a massive chance for him on Sky Sports, but I am on a high right now and I want to carry that on.
“The Jones fight was a career-changer for me. I had to be switched on and I knew that beating him would bring bigger fighters and more opportunities. I took risks against him because boxing is an entertainment business and that’s what I want to do, I want to get the fans behind me and become a household name.
“Everyone who fights Carson has a tough time with him the first time they fight so I knew what I had to do. I could have made it easier but Carson was the perfect opponent to show that I am tough, I can take a shot and I can rough it with the best. I showed everything against him and felt really good and I think it was a class performance.
“I outmanned the man. He’s a bully in the ring but I toughed it out in the first few rounds to outman him and wear him down. Once I got through those early rounds and bullied him, I got to my boxing and boxed his head off. He had some little spells and he’s a tough fighter, he’s been in with good fighters but I showed that I can mix it at a higher level, I showed I can fight, box and I showed toughness.”
Cheeseman’s clash with Upton is part of a huge night of action in the east London boxing mecca as Lawrence Okolie and Luke Watkins clash for the Commonwealth and WBA Continental Cruiserweight titles.
There’s a second pro outing for Kazakhstan Olympic Gold medal hero Daniyar Yeleussinov amongst the highlights. The Rio Games star made a stunning start to life in the paid ranks with a third round KO on his debut in Brooklyn, and British fight fans will get the chance of an intimate view of a future superstar.
Powerhouse Reece Bellotti threatens steals the show every time he is in action, and he defends his Commonwealth Featherweight title against ‘Ruthless’ Ryan Doyle, while young unbeaten talent Felix Cash fights for the second time in 2018.