By Richard Cawley
Isaac Chamberlain suffered a first career loss as he found Lawrence Okolie too big and powerful in their clash of undefeated cruiserweights at Greenwich’s 02 Arena.
The Brixton fighter had a torrid start to the fight as he was knocked down inside the opening minute, a left jab landing and then a right hand – only glancing – seeing him dropped to the canvas.
Chamberlain was quickly back to his feet but suffered another 10-8 scoring round in the second round as he was penalised for holding.
It seemed a harsh call with Okolie – by far the bigger man – regularly wrapping his arms around the South Londoner when he tried to work in close.
Okolie was also deducted a point for the same offence in the ninth round but by that stage of the contest the outcome was a foregone conclusion.
Promoter Eddie Hearn had fanned the flames in the build-up with the show tagged “British Beef”, a reference to the rivalry between the men. But so much of the 10-round bout was tough to digest with frequent warnings from the referee to tidy up the contest.
Chamberlain touched down again briefly in the sixth round as he suffered his second knockdown of the evening.
Okolie – a huge cruiserweight at 6ft 5ins-tall – bullied Chamberlain around the ring and manhandled him to the canvas on more that one occasion.
The scorecards were emphatic with the judges marking it 98-89, 96-90 and 97-89 as the Hackney puncher claimed the vacant WBA continental belt.
Chamberlain’s record drops to 9-1 and the former Southern Area champion also saw his streak of three stoppage victories ended. He never looked to have hurt Okolie.
“Isaac is a good fighter,” said Okolie. “He tested me in a different way. It is good as a benchmark, to push on from it.
“I want to give a big shout out to the Chamberlain team. A lot of fighters said no to fighting me.
“I hurt him early and then had to see if he was brave enough to keep coming, and if he does it is going to be a long night. I’ve got nothing but respect for his mental toughness and fortitude.
“Boxing is not all about slipping and moving. It’s ring generalship and punching at the right time.
“I said in the build-up he was going to see how hard it is to work inside with someone as strong as me. I’m nowhere near the finished article.”
Hearn added: “Isaac is going to come back. He’ll work towards an English or British title shot. Lawrence should move forward to a British title shot ASAP.”