Lawrence Okolie will also make the second defense of his WBO cruiserweight title on February 27 in London against former WBC title challenger Michal Cieslak, from Poland. 

Okolie won the title by knocking out Krzysztof Glowacki in six rounds in March last year and made his first defense when he knocked out Dilan Prasovic in three rounds in September. 

There has been talk of Okolie facing Mairis Briedis, the IBF champion, in a unification fight but the Latvian has been ordered to face his mandatory contender, Jai Opetaia. 

As reported earlier on, Leigh Wood will get home advantage when he makes his first defense of the WBA featherweight title against Michael Conlan in Nottingham on March 12. 

Wood won the title when he dominated Can Xu on the opening night of Eddie Hearn’s Fight Camp in Brentwood in July. The Nottingham fighter  

He had been ordered to defend the belt against Conlan, after the unbeaten Irishman beat TJ Doheny in Belfast to claim the WBA’s interim belt just six days after Wood’s win over Xu. The WBA has since pledged to do away with interim titles, installing all the interim champions as No 1 contenders. 

There had been initial thoughts that the fight would end up on St Patrick’s Day weekend in New York or Belfast. But Conlan, 30, let the cat out of the bag about the venue just before Christmas when he told Irish News: “Wood didn’t fancy Belfast and Ben Davison (his coach) didn’t fancy Belfast, so we’ll bring Belfast to them. I’m happily going to their town and I’ll be ripping the belt off them.” 

It will be the first world title fight at Nottingham Arena since Carl Froch beat Yusuf Mack in 2012, when Wood boxed on the undercard. The last time the venue staged boxing, in 2019, Wood knocked out Ryan Doyle in defence of the Commonwealth title.  

Wood, 33, had been handpicked as an opponent by Xu’s promoter, Golden Boy, but he dominated the Chinese boxer, winning nearly every round before forcing the stoppage 17 seconds before the final bell. 

Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.