This past weekend saw the end of Lawrence Okolie’s cruiserweight title reign.
A court ruling on Monday saw the official end of his contractual ties with former promoter.
Okolie and Matchroom Boxing have reached an agreement to end a previous lawsuit following their split late last year. The terms of the official separation were not disclosed thought it appears that both sides are content with the outcome, however bittersweet.
“I am pleased to confirm that Eddie Hearn, Matchroom Boxing, and I have collaboratively concluded a settlement,” Okolie announced on Monday through his verified social media accounts. “I would like to express my gratitude to Eddie and Matchroom for their guidance and support throughout my career, from my professional debut to becoming a world champ on, and for the opportunities to win various titles along the way.”
The development comes just two days after Okolie suffered a twelve-round, majority decision defeat to Chris Billam-Smith in their WBO cruiserweight title fight this past Saturday at Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, England.
Okolie (19-1, 14KOs) won the title in a March 2021 knockout win over former titlist Krzysztof Glowacki, in just his 16th pro fight and while still proudly under the Matchroom banner. He would fight twice more for Matchroom before two had a falling out toward the end of 2022. Their bitter split became public knowledge immediately after the WBO ordered Okolie to face unbeaten mandatory challenger David Light.
The WBO immediately sent the matter to a purse bid once Okolie’s personal team—led by Themba Smith—requested that the sanctioning body no longer include Matchroom in further correspondence for this fight. Matchroom naturally objected to the request and insisted that a promotional agreement still existed on paper. Okolie signed with Matchroom in early 2017, five months after representing Great Britain in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
A lawsuit transpired upon Okolie’s ordered title defense versus Light, though Matchroom agreed to not stand in the way of his career during the interim.
A deal was reached between the unbeaten cruiserweights to avoid a purse bid hearing, which also saw Okolie sign a multi-fight agreement with BOXXER. Okolie outpointed Light over twelve rounds atop a March 25 BOXXER show from AO Arena in Manchester. He then agreed to return to the ring just ten weeks later versus Billam Smith (18-1, 12KOs), a former training stablemate against whom Okolie suffered three knockdowns and two point deductions in their May 27 Sky Sports headliner.
The hope now is to secure a rematch to what was a voluntary title defense.
"This is boxing. The main thing I know is I'm down but I'm not out. It was a good performance from Chris," Okolie said to Sky Sports. "But there was nothing in there that made me think he's unbelievable or whatever else. It was just a good performance. He put everything on the line and he got his reward for it, but I will definitely be pushing for a rematch."
The settlement reached with Matchroom means that Okolie can focus solely on his career without any additional out-of-ring drama. With the agreement, the once-beaten cruiserweight hopes that all parties can simply move forward free of resentment.
“In the heat of our discussions, statements were made that I am regrettable,” admitted Okolie. “Nevertheless, I am pleased to have ended things on good terms with Eddie and Matchroom and am glad that we can put this behind us and I can fully focus on the next staqe ol my career.
“I would like to [emphasize] that the particulars of our resolution will remain confidential, and I will not be [making] any further comment on the matter.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox