Lawrence Okolie vows to keep climbing after conquering his own "Mount Everest"
Lawrence Okolie has so many more mountains he wants to conquer in boxing despite becoming a world champion earlier this year.
The 28-year-old won the WBO World cruiserweight title in March when he beat Krzysztof Glowacki.
And he will make his first defence of his belt when he takes on Dilan Prasovic on the Anthony Joshua-Oleksandr Usyk undercard at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in north London on Saturday.
But despite fulfilling a childhood dream by reaching the cruiserweight summit, he is determined it will prove to have just been Base Camp for the exhilarating adventures that he hopes still lie ahead.
Okolie said: “Being world champion is the point that everyone calls the top, but it’s not really the top.
“You put your flag there, you talk about conquering it, you get your rest stop, get the drinks in, the T-shirt saying, ‘I climbed Mount Everest’.
“But there’s still more for the legendary climbers, the ones who go beyond that pat on the back, that T-shirt.
“The ones who say, ‘Hang on, there’s less help that way, it’s more dangerous, there’s less harness, but less people who have done it’.
“I always saw myself getting to that world title stage, I always thought I was a good amateur.
“So to get that sense of satisfaction I now need to push it as far as I can, going unbeaten.
“Being a history-maker will give me that sense of satisfaction and even if it didn’t work out I’d still be happy that I pushed for that status.”
Okolie's big hope is to unify the cruiserweight division and then step up to heavyweight to see if he can mix it with Joshua, Tyson Fury and the rest of the sport's big boys.
And, according to promoter Eddie Hearn, that is something he can achieve … and fast.
Speaking after Okolie's victory over Glowacki, Hearn said: "My goodness was he good enough. Not just good enough, an absolute masterclass.
"The jab, the footwork, the right hand. The work on the inside, the spinning off.
"That was a good enough performance to beat any cruiserweight in the division, and that's what we want to do now.
"We don't want to muck around, we want to go straight for all the titles and unify the division and then move up to heavyweight.
"He's got scary power, but he used to be all power.
"Now he has got the jab, he has got the movement, he has got the knowledge up here. (Trainer) Shane (McGuigan) has done a tremendous job."
Okolie was still flipping burgers at McDonald's in London's Victoria Station nine years ago, and by his own admission was clinically obese, when he watched Joshua become Olympic super-heavyweight gold medallist at the London Games.
That moment served as all the inspiration he needed and, less than a decade on, he has created a hugely inspirational story of his own.
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