Lawrence Okolie will headline the O2 Arena on February 27 and he’s been getting some training in with Anthony Joshua in preparation.
Joshua is staying ready himself, though he hasn’t been quite sure what for.
The former two-time world heavyweight champion activated his rematch clause with Oleksandr Usyk after losing against the Ukrainian last September, but after talks between Tyson Fury and Usyk began on a possible undisputed fight, Matchroom Boxing started entertaining step-aside deals.
Ultimately, those ideas don’t appear to have come to fruition and now Dillian Whyte looks set for Fury and AJ will indeed rematch with Usyk.
Okolie’s career started in boxing by being signed by Joshua, but now they train and spar together as two men who have won world titles.
“It’s good,” Okolie said of training with Joshua. “Me and him have done this for years now. I’m a huge supporter and friend of him, I like to see him do well, I like to see his friends do well, so it’s good to just get in there.
“It’s good too because you realise, I’m a world champion. When I’m in there with him, that’s a former unified heavyweight champion, two-time. It’s world class with world-class.
“Even when he was world champion and I was just turning professional, the aim was always to handshake and ‘well done’. We moved through the stages. I’ll always have love for what he’s done for myself and my family.”
Joshua has appeared laser focused on regaining his world titles and is planning to make a change to his coaching team or where he bases his camp for his next fight.
talkSPORT asked Okolie if he has seen a change in his longtime friend since the loss.
“Yeah, he’s definitely changed. Not even just in training, he’s got a different focus just in life. The stuff that he talks about and various other stuff, 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, the glamour and whatever, but the reality is we were boxing in the Olympics for free against killers from all over the world just for the glory and to be winners. To be the best we 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 jam in the division and doesn’t see the point right now.
“Yes, 100 million per cent,” Okolie answered when asked if the backlog at heavyweight puts him off moving up.
“I probably would have gone, there’s more money up there from what I keep hearing. Where is this money?!
“But, put that to one side, it’s a traffic jam. I’m not in it just for the money, I actually enjoy pushing on and being a two-weight world champion but at the current juncture, you go up there and you’re just standing in the queue like everyone else. It just doesn’t make any sense,” Okolie finished.
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