Okolie vs Chamberlain: Tony Bellew and Johnny Nelson break down British Beef

Lawrence Okolie and Isaac Chamberlain are two unbeaten cruiserweights whose names have been up in lights long before some of their predecessors, so former world champions Johnny Nelson and Tony Bellew were happy to debate any issues that they have spotted… and you can get involved at the bottom of the article.

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February 2, 2018, 10:30pm

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Get Sky Sports Get a Sky Sports pass This fight is a big step up for them both, but who has more pressure on his shoulders?

Nelson: There is one big difference for me and that is that Lawrence Okolie is used to the big stage, with the spotlight on him. Now all of a sudden and he and Chamberlain are top of the bill, so how will he handle it?

Bellew: I don’t think Lawrence actually is, like you say Johnny. He has been on big undercards, and when you are under a big name like Anthony Joshua, there is no pressure on you. If we’re honest and having been through it, no-one’s really’s coming to watch you, apart from friends and family.

Nelson: So what about the Olympics, with Okolie? Surely he was out in Rio, flying the British flag, not wanting to let the country, his family and friends, and indeed himself, down?

Bellew: He will have found some pressure on his shoulders, but he was an underdog in that tournament and no-one expected him to do anything. He lost to Erislandy Savon, who was expected to win it. And did.

Does that put more pressure on Okolie then?

Nelson: There is not just that, the fact is people are expecting him to win this one. I have never seen him train so hard, so he is taking this seriously – and I mean seriously.

Bellew: Nothing will bring more pressure on to him than himself. This is the first time in his career he is expected to perform, when in the others he has gone in knowing he is going to win. He has been matched up with guys with losing records, the sort we all had and need when we turn pro. He is now facing an undefeated fighter, he is now topping the bill and he knows he has to win, so the pressure is there.

Lawrence Okolie and Isaac Chamberlain are the latest gladiators to battle within the walls of the O2 Arena.

What I will say is I have seen Chamberlain show the sort of characteristics he is going to need. To get through the Camacho fight, he could easily have got out after the shoulder had popped out and he could have had another crack on another day, and no-one would’ve complained. Of course, people like me would have but he showed he has got that mental resolve.

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Get Sky Sports Get a Sky Sports pass Are you suggesting Okolie doesn’t?

Bellew: That is another question. But has Okolie had real tests? Isaac Chamberlain has been called upon a couple of times, for his heart and his wit and determination. We were all impressed with how he came through the Wadi Camacho fight and we know he’s got that determination and desire. He ticks a couple of boxes more than Okolie has. We have seen Okolie blow people away but I will say this: I think he’s vulnerable.

Nelson: Yes, I am not going to disagree with that.

Bellew: He’s been caught by much lesser opponents than Chamberlain has, so is this a calculated gamble by his team? Are they thinking that Isaac isn’t a puncher and that’s why they’ve taken it? If he was a puncher, I honestly don’t think they would be taking it.

Nelson: I totally agree with you. Isaac isn’t a big banger and yes, Usyk has said he can hit hard but when you see him fight, you just want to see a little bit more snap. And I’ve seen Lawrence in fights where he’s been hit and stunned. Time has stood still for a split second and now, going into this, there will be questions of doubt on what he’s got. We all know he can bang, but can he take a shot when he moves up a little bit? Like on Saturday night.

Bellew: That’s why they’ve taken this fight, Johnny. The people backing Lawrence want to know what he’s got. Let’s see if he can take it. Let’s see how vulnerable he is. Let’s see, because after three or four rounds, we will find out.

Nelson: And they are still at domestic level. Lawrence is rated number seven in Britain, Isaac is number nine, so there are these guys in front of them to get through as well. Does the winner leapfrog them, or do they do the traditional way and do the British, Commonwealth and European?

But I am just sitting here trying to look and think if they’ve got the longevity to go all the way. I can’t see it yet but this fight will show us something. It will tell us something about if they can – or can’t – go on from here, not just win this fight.

Agree or disagree with anything the two former cruiserweight world champions have come up with?

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