Okolie smashes Rozanski for WBC bridgerweight belt

By Scott Shaffer

25/05/2024

Okolie smashes Rozanski for WBC bridgerweight belt

Lawrence Okolie TKO1 Lukasz Rozanski ... Lawrence Okolie knocked down Lukasz Rozanski three times in the opening round to win the WBC bridgerweight (224-pound) world title in Poland on Friday night. The fight was not really of world-level quality as Rozanskio looked out of shape and generally awful, but the win technically makes Okolie a two-weight world champion. The British Okolie (20-1) reigned as the WBO 200-pound champion from 2021-2023. Keep in mind, the undisputed world heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk weighed 223 pounds when defeating Tyson Fury last week, so there is really no dispute who is the world's best 224-pound boxer.
 

BOXINGTALK'S BRIDGERWEIGHT DIVISION TIMELINE

MAY 19, 2024: Although not a bridgerweight fight, Oleksandr Usyk was 223 pounds, below the bridgerweight limit, when he made boxing history by becoming the first undisputed world heavyweight champion of the century. The Ukrainian Usyk outboxed Great Britain's Tyson Fury, although it was ruled a split decision. Boxingtalk scored it 115-112 for Usyk, who remains undefeated as a professional. Usyk was trailing at the midway point but turned the momentum back his way and knocked Fury down towards the end of round nine. Usyk added Fury's WBC heavyweight title to the WBA, WBO and IBF versions he previously owned.  An Olympic gold medal winner as well as undisputed world champion at cruiserweight and now heavyweight, Usyk has to be considered an all-time great For those following the new bridgerweight division, Usyk must be considered the world's best.

FEB. 10, 2024... Unheralded Zhaoxin Zhang of China delivered a spectacular knockout against Evgeny Romanov on Saturday to win a WBA elimination bout in the bridgerweight (224-pound) division. Fighting on hostile turf in Yekaterinburg, Russia, Zhang  ended the bout in only two rounds after a combination sent the Russian to the canvas in very bad condition. The referee did not allow the favored Romanov to continue despite him beating the ten count. But the fight was not easy for Zhang, who was punished from the first bell and looked vulnerable in the beginning of the fight. Zhang was knocked down by Romanov but he overcame that plus several cuts to his face to fight back and pull off the upset with a dramatic victory. Zhang now becomes the mandatory challenger to another Russian, Evgeny Tishchenko. Zhang puts himself on the boxing map with a record of 12-2-1 with 7 KOs. Romanov lost his undefeated record and is now 19-1 with 12 KOs.
 
WBA / DEC. 12, 2023: Evgeny Tishchenko is now recognized as the first WBA bridgerweight champion after he defeated Germany's Leon Harth this weekend at the Agenda Arena in Dubai. **NOTE: As of May 2024, Tishchenko was stripped of his title due to a positive doping test.** The Russian Tischenko  finished the fight in the sixth round against Harth to join South Africa's Kevin Lerena as the two recognized champions in the nascent 224-pound weight class. Tishchenko dominated the bout, winning every round and getting a knockdown in the second round. The fight ended when Harth took a ten count after a hard body shot. Tishchenko's most accurate pro record is 21-3 including the World Series of Boxing. Harth falls to 22-6-1. 
 
WBC / NOV. 27, 2023:  In a 224-pound fight held in South Africa on Saturday, Kevin Lerena outclassed rugged Senad Gashi, landing powerful accurate blows throughout the twelve rounds of the fight. Lerena diminished Gashi’s condition round by round. Gashi never stopped fighting and trying to win, but Lerena remained focused on his fight plan to tilt the fight in his favor. Gashi was penalized a point in the final round after hitting Lerena with a low blow. The South African took revenge for this action by knocking down Gashi seconds before the end of the last round. The judges scored the fight in favor of Lerena, declaring him the new WBC interim bridgerweight champion. He now looks forward to facing champion Lukasz Różański, who is expected to fight two-time world champion Badou Jack first. 
 
WBC / APRIL 23, 2023: Poland's Lukasz Rozanski became the second WBC bridgerweight champion, winning the vacant 224-pound title by knocking out Croatia's Alen Babic in the very first round at the G2A Arena in Rzeszow, Poland. Rozanski didn’t give Babic an opportunity to get comfortable because as soon as the bell rang in the first round, the wild-swinging Pole attacked the visiting Croatian with power, sending him to the canvas. Babic got to his feet, but Rozanski connected with a powerful right hand that again put Babic in bad shape, and then Babic was battered with all kinds of combinations. The referee Guadalupe García decided to stop the fight because Babic was receiving too much punishment. With this victory, Rozanski established himself as the WBC bridgerweight champion, succeeding Oscar Rivas, whose career ended due to eye problems. Rozanski improved his record to 15-0 with 14 knockouts. Babic, who had his manager, English heavyweight Dillian Whyte in his corner, fell to 12-2 (including the World Series of Boxing).
 
WBC / JAN. 7, 2023: Oscar Rivas is now the first-ever bridgerweight champion in recess. The WBC clarified that Rivas has not been stripped of his bridgerweight championship, but instead has been demoted to champion in recess until he confirms his decision about his boxing future. Rivas suffered a detached retina and will not be able to fight his contracted bout with Lukasz Rozanski of Poland. The WBC Board of governors has voted in favor of the following resolution to immediately address the status of the new 224-pound weight division: Alen Babic and Rozanski will fight for the vacant title with a 50-50 purse split if a purse bid is needed. The winner must commit to comply with two mandatories, the first one against the winner of a final eliminator between Ryad Merhy vs. Kevin Lerena. 
 
WBC / APRIL 27, 2022: Groupe Yvon Michel (GYM), Probellum and Global Jabes 77 held a joint press conference in Bogota, Colombia, to announce WBC bridgerweight champion Oscar “Kaboom” Rivas (28-1, 19 KOs) will make his first title defense on August 13th at home against Poland's Lukasz Rozanski (14-0, 13 KOs) at the Estadio Olimpico Pascual Guerrero stadium (40,000 capacity) in Cali, Colombia. **The fight would never take place after it was revealed that Rivas had a detached retina and could not fight anymore.** 
 
WBC / OCT. 23, 2021: Colombian transplant Oscar Rivas emerged from an all-Canadian slugfest as the first bridgerweight world champion. Rivas defeated Ryan Rozicki in a phone booth-type fight by scores of 115-112 (twice) and 116-111 to win the inaugural WBC 224-pound honors. An exhausted Rivas bloodied Rozicki's nose and brow but had a point deducted in round twelve for excessive holding. Rozicki took the fight on barely three weeks’ notice after Bryant Jennings refusal to get the coronavirus vaccine barred him from fighting in Canada.