Rio 2016: Okolie wins boxing opener

PUBLISHED: 08:50 07 August 2016 | UPDATED: 08:50 07 August 2016

Team GB boxers Nicola Adams MBE (left), Antony Fowler (centre) and Lawrence Okolie at the team training camp in Belo Horizonte, Brazil (pic: Owen Humphreys/PA)

Team GB boxers Nicola Adams MBE (left), Antony Fowler (centre) and Lawrence Okolie at the team training camp in Belo Horizonte, Brazil (pic: Owen Humphreys/PA)

PA/Press Association Images

Heavyweight hope ready for rematch with Cuban

London heavyweight Lawrence Okolie produced a strong display to win on his Olympic debut in Brazil last night.

The 23-year-old from Hackney, who boxes for Dagenham BC, started well against Poland’s Igor Pawel Jakubowski and earned a unanimous decision from the judges.

And the University of East London student will now face Cuba’s Erislandy Savon on Monday, looking to redress the balance after losing to his rival in the World Series of Boxing earlier this year.

Okolie said: “It felt good to get out there. I was a little bit nervous because last week with the altitude, it was a bit difficult to find my feet in training. “But fortunately we’ve put that to rest this week and I’ve managed to come out and perform. I thought I might get a knockout ,but the main thing my corner said was stay calm and work the jab.

“It’s not about forcing things. It’s about relaxing and the punches will find themselves. I’ve been told that the first fight is always the hardest one with the nerves and everything so now it’s just about getting into my rhythm and going on from here.”

As to his hopes of beating Savon and forcing his way into medal contention, Okolie added: “Winning a gold medal here is not about scraping a medal by getting lucky. It’s about being able to beat everyone.

“If I can beat the people that are in front of me, I’ll get a gold. If I can’t, I don’t deserve it. That’s where I’m at mentally.”

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