Lawrence Okolie will headline the O2 Arena on February 27 and he has been training with Anthony Joshua in preparation.
Joshua remains ready himself, although he’s not quite sure why.
The former two-time world heavyweight champion has activated his rematch clause with Oleksandr Usyk after losing to the Ukrainian last September, but after talks began between Tyson Fury and Usyk over a possible undisputed fight, Matchroom Boxing has started offering alternative agreements.
In the end, those ideas don’t seem to have come to fruition and now Dillian Whyte looks set for Fury and AJ will effectively catch up with Usyk.
Okolie’s career started in boxing by being signed by Joshua, but now they train and train together as two men who have won world titles.
“It’s good,” Okolie said of training with Joshua. “He and I have been doing this for years now. I’m a big fan and a friend of his, I like to see him do well, I like to see his friends do well, so it’s good to get in there.
“It’s also good because you realize that I’m the world champion. When I’m in there with him, he’s a former unified, two-time heavyweight champion. It’s world class with a world class.
“Even when he was world champion and I was just turning professional, the goal was always to shake hands and ‘well done’. We’ve come through the stages. I’ll always have love for what he has made for me and my family.
Joshua has appeared laser focused on reclaiming his world titles and plans to change his coaching staff or where he bases his camp for his next fight.
talkSPORT asked Okolie if he has seen any change in his longtime friend since the loss.
“Yeah, he definitely changed. Not even just in training, he has a different focus just in life. The things he talks about and various other things, so it’s going to be interesting to see.
“But, at the end of the day, boxing is a sport, we love it and there’s the glitz and the glamor and everything, but the reality is that we’re boxing for free in the Olympics against killers all over the world just for the sake of it. glory and to be winners. To be the best you can be and I feel like with AJ, nothing has changed.
Okolie, who takes on Michael Cieslak with his WBO cruiserweight title on the line, has always planned to move up to heavyweight at some point, but the 29-year-old has seen the traffic jams in the division and doesn’t see the point in it. the moment. .
“Yeah, 100 million percent,” Okolie replied when asked if the backlog at heavyweight was holding him back.
“I probably would have gone there, there is more money up there from what I keep hearing. Where is that money?!
“But, putting that aside, it’s a traffic jam. I’m not in it just for the money, I really like to push and be a two-weight world champion, but in today’s times you get up there and just stand in line like everyone else. It just doesn’t make sense,” Okolie concluded.
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