Boxing: Okolie stops Argentine rival
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Lawrence Okolie’s march towards international honours continued at the O2 Arena with a TKO victory over Mariano Angel Gudino.
The Hackney cruiserweight booked a shot at Belgian Yves Ngabu for the European title after his seventh-round stoppage win over the negative Argentine on the undercard of Dillian Whyte's clash with Oscar Rivas.
Okolie, holder of the British and Commonwealth belts, had his man down four times on his way to victory.
Gudino (12-3) proved a tame and disappointing opponent, frequently refusing to engage, but 26-year-old Okolie dispatched him in good fashion to keep hold of his WBA Continental belt and impress a big crowd in the capital.
'The Sauce' (13-0) had hoped to fight Denis Lebedev for world title this summer, but the Russian's retirement put paid to those plans.
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Instead, a tilt at European championship awaits after securing the mandatory position, and Okolie hopes that fight can land in London later this year.
The former Olympian dominated proceedings from the opening bell, but El Ángel's feeble tactics made for less-than-compelling viewing.
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Nonetheless, the 6ft 5in power-puncher showcased improvements in his first fight under the tutelage of trainer Shane McGuigan - using the jab well and cutting down on holding.
Okolie began to judge the distance as the fight entered the third round, and Gudino was down for the first time after the Hackney man caught him with a crunching right to the top of the head.
The Argentine squirmed further into his shell, limply falling to the deck on numerous occasions as Okolie tried to work on the inside.
Okolie targeted the body in hope of slowing his slippery opponent down, and it paid dividends in the seventh as he ended the fight with a trio of knockdowns.
First, a clubbing right had Gudino on the deck, and he was down again after swallowing a mean right hayemaker.
He gritted his teeth and rose to his feet, but one more attack from Okolie saw referee Bob Edwards wave it off.