By Ollie Salt, courtesy of The Daily Star
LAWRENCE OKOLIE sparked controversy by calling out Dillian Whyte on Twitter earlier this month.
Okolie, 26, made a beeline for the heavyweight by tweeting: “I personally believe I would beat @DillianWhyte.”
That hypothesis didn’t go down too well with Whyte, who responded by telling iFL TV: “He’s a media wh**e, he’s just trying to use my name to get some light on his career. He talks a lot of s**t and everyone hates him.”
Yet their feud was not done there, as Okolie – who currently plies his trade at cruiserweight – went a step further by posting a clip of him sparring Whyte, captioned: “Here’s a quick 20 secs of me slapping your favourite heavyweight about.”
Their new-found rivalry has an intriguing backstory; Whyte was knocked out by Okolie’s long-term mentor and bitter rival Anthony Joshua in December 2015, while the former has been vying for his own protege, Richard Riakporhe, to lock horns with Okolie.
‘The Sauce’ has attracted plenty of naysayers early on in his career for his involvement in bouts fraught with grappling and holding, which even saw him booed by fans at Wembley Stadium after another unsightly win over Matty Askin, and releasing footage of a sparring session was deemed unsportsmanlike by many.
But Okolie (11-0-0, 8 KOs) has no regrets about the fallout with Whyte.
“What I would say is that I come under criticism from fans, that’s fine. I come under criticism from coaches, that’s fine,” he exclusively told Starsport.
“When I come under criticism from fighters, especially ones that are in a higher status than me, that’s when I take it a little bit more personal.
“Dillian Whyte is a person who obviously has had problems with my manager in Anthony Joshua and wants to fight him. So I think he’s been one main advocators for: ‘this guy will beat Lawrence.’
“On the day when I tweeted him, he was on film talking about people beating me. He’s been in the corner for other people that I’ve boxed, he was an advocate for the Matty Askins fight.
“So he doesn’t have my best interests at heart and he’s never used his profile to help me. And at the same time, he’s never picked up the phone to call me and tell me: ‘hey, you should work on this.’
“So he’s not my friend and that’s that.”
This Saturday, Okolie takes on fellow Brit Wadi Camacho at the Copperbox Arena, London.
He will be aiming for the 12th win of his professional career, his ninth by knockout, and the Hackney man is in need of an awe-inspiring display to keep the growing army of sceptics at bay.
Camacho is of a southpaw stance, meaning he will pose a different threat to the likes of Askin, Luke Watkins and Isaac Chamberlain.
However, Okolie is still supremely confident of coming out on top.
“I’m 100 percent confident,” he said. “So I’m just gonna go out there and execute. That’s all that’s left to do.
“This is boxing, so I just look at the facts and figures and they weigh up in my favour in my mind.
“Someone being southpaw and someone being orthodox, it’s all just boxing.
“I boxed them in the amateurs and I’ve boxed them as a pro, him being southpaw doesn’t really cross my mind. It’s just a stance.”