Lawrence Okoli’s reign in the cruiserweight category ended last weekend.
Monday’s court ruling marked the official end of his contractual ties with the former promoter.
Okolie and Matchroom Boxing have reached an agreement to end the previous lawsuit after their split late last year. The terms of the official parting have not been revealed, although both sides appear to be happy with the outcome, however bittersweet.
“I am pleased to confirm that Eddie Hearn, Matchroom Boxing and I have reached a mutually agreed settlement,” Okolie announced on Monday via his verified social media accounts. “I would like to express my gratitude to Eddie and the Matchroom for their guidance and support throughout my career, from my professional debut to winning the world title, and for the opportunities to win various titles along the way.”
The development came just two days after Okolie suffered a twelve-round majority decision loss to Chris Billam-Smith for his WBO cruiserweight title last Saturday at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, England.
Okolie (19-1, 14 KOs) won the title in March 2021, defeating former champion Krzysztof Głowacki by knockout in his 16th professional fight and still proudly performing under the Matchroom banner. He was scheduled to fight two more times in the Matchroom before the two fell out in late 2022. Their bitter rift became public knowledge immediately after the WBO ordered Okoli to face undefeated mandatory challenger David Light.
The WBO immediately took the matter to the tender when Okoli’s personal team – led by Themba Smith – demanded that the sanctioning body no longer include Matchroom in any further correspondence regarding this fight. Matchroom naturally objected to the request and insisted that the promotion deal still existed on paper. Okolie signed for Matchroom in early 2017, five months after representing Great Britain at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
The lawsuit followed Okoli’s ordered title defense against Light, although the Matchroom agreed not to get in the way of his transition career.
An agreement was reached between the undefeated cruiserweights to avoid a wallet bidding hearing where Okolie also signed a multi-fight deal with BOXXER. Okolie outscored Light in twelve rounds at the BOXXER show on March 25 at the AO Arena in Manchester. He then agreed to return to the ring just ten weeks later against Billam Smith (18-1, 12 KOs), a former stablemate with whom Okolie suffered three knockdowns and two point deductions in the Sky Sports main match on 27 May.
Now there is hope for a rematch for the voluntarily defending the title.
“This is boxing. The most important thing I know is that I’m down, but I’m not falling off. It was a good performance from Chris,” Okolie told Sky Sports. “But there was nothing there that made me think he was unbelievable or anything. It was just a good performance. He put everything on the line and got his reward for it, but I will definitely push for a rematch.”
The settlement reached with Matchroom means Okolie can focus solely on his career with no extra drama outside of the ring. With the deal, the once-defeated cruiserweight contender hopes all sides can just move forward without any hard feelings.
“In the heat of our discussions, there were statements that I was deplorable,” admitted Okolie. “Nevertheless, I’m happy to have ended things on good terms with Eddie and Matchroom and I’m glad we can put that behind us and focus fully on the next stage of my career.
“I would like to (emphasize) that the details of our resolution will remain confidential and I will not (make) any further comments on the matter.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox