Lawrence Okolie has vowed to become “one of the best cruiserweights ever” as he starts his world title reign against unbeaten challenger Dilan Prasovic.
Okolie claimed the WBO crown by knocking out Pole Krzysztof Glowacki in March and will make his first defence against Prasovic on the Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk bill on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Box Office.
Usyk had been an undisputed cruiserweight champion before moving up a division to challenge Joshua, signalling the start of a new era as Okolie seeks to stake his claim as the new world No 1.
“I could go down as one of the best cruiserweights of all time,” Okolie told Sky Sports.
“Right now you’ve got the likes of Usyk who’s boxing Anthony Joshua in the main event. You’ve got David Haye, Evander Holyfield and then the rest are very good fighters.
“But I feel like with unifications, I have the opportunity to stamp myself as one of the best cruiserweights ever.”
Okolie is targeting IBF titleholder Mairis Briedis and WBC champion Ilunga Makabu before the inevitable move up to heavyweight.
Asked about his future plans, Okolie replied: “When I can say with my résumé that I’m one of the best cruiserweights, then I can start thinking about moving up.”
Okolie hopes to emulate David Haye and Evander Holyfield, who both unified titles in the 200lb division before stepping up to secure world heavyweight belts.
Usyk will attempt to achieve the same feat this weekend, but Okolie voiced his backing for Joshua, who has been a mentor for him in the professional ranks.
“I think it will be even in the first few rounds, but I think when Usyk tries to win the fight, holds his feet for that second longer, AJ is going to land the shot because you’re in punching range,” said Okolie.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily going to be a stoppage but in the middle rounds, AJ is going to put the pain on him and Usyk is going to realise I’m busted up here, I’ve never had a big black eye, this kind of damage done to me. We’ll see.”
Watch Joshua v Usk on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Box Office, from 6pm. Book it via your Sky remote or book it online here. Non-Sky TV subscribers can book and watch it here.