Plant-based British boxer Lawrence Okolie retained his World Boxing Organization (WBO) cruiserweight world title on February 27, after securing it last year.
Okolie, 29, fought Polish boxer Michal Cieslak, flooring him in the fifth round of a battle that BBC Sport called ‘comfortable yet scrappy’.
Okolie told 5 Live Boxing: “It was a flat performance and I allowed it to get messy. This was one of those days where it was tough, awkward, and the guy was physically strong, but I need to work on the mentality that it doesn’t need to be perfect.
“I will go back to the gym, go again and make it right the next time,” Okolie added.
Undefeated world champion
It may not have been his greatest performance to date, but Okolie remains an undefeated world champion, now with 18 consecutive wins as a professional boxer.
On the undercard, another British vegan boxer, Olympian Cheavon Clarke, made his professional debut with an explosive victory against Croatian Toni Visi.
Okolie – who was born in Hackney, London to Nigerian parents – has followed a plant-based diet since he became a professional boxer in 2017.
Powered by plants
On his diet, Okolie told Sky that he is “mainly vegan”, not eating “meat, fish, eggs, or cow’s milk”, and has found that a plant-based diet helps with weight maintenance and improves his energy levels.
“I eat all the wonderful fruit and vegetables out there, rice, grains – basically stuff that gives me energy to train but then it’s not as hard to process in my body,” said Okolie.
Since his 2018 debut, Okolie – nicknamed ‘The Sauce’ – has risen through the boxing ranks to become a world-recognized force, ranked as the world’s third best active cruiserweight by The Ring as of February 2022.
What’s next for Okolie?
After his Sunday win, Okolie has the opportunity to unify the division, which is to win two or more of the major sanctioning titles in a division: World Boxing Association (WBA), World Boxing Council (WBC), International Boxing Federation (IBF), The Ring, and WBO.
Okolie’s next opponent is undetermined, but possible challengers include Congolese WBC champion Ilunga Makabu, French WBA ‘Super’ champion Arsen Goulamirian, or British boxers Chris Billam-Smith or Richard Riakporhe.
However, fans – and Okolie’s promoter, Eddie Hearn – hope that a battle against 37-year-old Latvian IBF champion Mairis Breidis is on the cards.
“That’s the fight we want to see,” Hearn told the BBC.
Alongside his boxing, Okolie is releasing an autobiographical self-help book next month entitled Dare to Change Your Life (Penguin).
Okolie writes: “I’m proud of the changes I’ve made to my life. While flipping burgers in McDonald’s, I found my ambition and now I’m a boxing champion. I’ve changed how I look at myself, how I look at the world, and I’ve improved my lifestyle.”