Lawrence Okolie got his career back on track in Rzeszow, Poland, dropping previously-undefeated Polish hero Lukasz Rozanski three times and stopping him inside a round.

London’s Okolie, a former Olympian and WBO cruiserweight champion, claimed Rozanski’s WBC bridgerweight title in the process.

Now 20-1 (15 KOs), Okolie started on the front foot and Rozanski could not match him in any department.

The packed crowd was firmly behind Rozanski, but Okolie started to time the Pole with his right hand and dictated early behind his jab, probing to the body and head before measuring Rozanski with a counter right hand that dropped the Pole.

Rozanski was up quickly but with a minute remaining Rozanski was nailed by an even bigger right hand that put him down even harder.

Rozanski complained he’d been hit behind the head but as they engaged again Okolie began to pile in more right hands, including a final right uppercut, and Rozanski again went down.

Rozanski rose gamely once more, but Belgian referee Daniel Van de Wiele waved it off after 2:55 of the first session.

Rozanski is now 15-1 (14).

“I think this was the best moment in boxing for me, I’m super happy,” said Okolie. “New weight, I put the KO back in Okolie, I said I was going to go in there from round one and try to get the knockout and I went in there and done that.”

It was Okolie’s first fight with trainer Joe Gallagher in his corner, having previously worked with Shane McGuigan and SugarHill Steward, and it was Okolie’s first contest since the only loss of his career, in May last year in Bournemouth, to former McGuigan’s Gym stablemate Chris Billam-Smith.

Okolie had hoped to secure a rematch with Billam-Smith – who had taken his WBO cruiserweight title – but when that could not be achieved, Okolie moved up to bridgerweight and said it is part of his journey up to heavyweight, which has long been his goal.

On the undercard, 2-1 cruiserweight Kamil Slendak defeated Daniel Plonka, 1-1, in two rounds, and 6-0 (2 KOs) Tobiasz Zarzeczny won a four-rounder against 3-14-2 Daniel Przewieslik. Fiodor Czerkaszyn, 24-1 (15 KOs), a Ukrainian who lives in Poland, stopped 31-7 (28 KOs) Mexican Jorge Cota in seven rounds.

Polish light heavyweight Jan Czerklewicz improved to 13-1 (3 KOs) with an eight-round decision over visiting Mexican Paul Valenzuela Cuesta, who drops to 28-12 (18 KOs) while Polish-based Cuban Ihosvany Rafael Garcia is now 13-0 (10 KOs) following a second-round stoppage of Polish light heavyweight Lukasz Plawecki.

Photo credit: Piotr Duszczyk/

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