EVEN though their rivalry has grown increasingly bitter, it’s still a surprise that Lawrence Okolie and Isaac Chamberlain are meeting at such an early stage of their respective career. But it’s no shock to Olympic bronze medallist Joshua Buatsi that the Lawrence Okolie vs Isaac Chamberlain cruiserweight showdown is headlining at the O2.

Buatsi, who’ll be on the undercard of the February 3 bill, says, “I’m not surprised it’s headlining. It’s actually interesting. As a fighter myself it’s something I actually want to see. We’re in London now and London’s interested. I think it’s going outside London. So that for me is a big enough fight for it to headline.”

The Croydon light-heavyweight knows better than most. He’s sparred both of them, and was one of Okolie’s GB team mates. “Sparring both of them, from Lawrence’s point of view, if he lands a good right hand, the pillars are coming down, the show’s going to be wrapped up, that’s it, it’s over,” Buatsi said. “I’ve been hit by it. The pillars didn’t come down but I’ve been hit by the that right hand.

Lawrence Okolie vs Isaac Chamberlain

“The thing about Isaac also as well, he’s very skilled. From his point of view he’s going to use all his skills and smarts to make sure he’s not there to be hit and he’s going to make sure he’s ready when Lawrence is vulnerable. So it’s quite exciting to see how it’s going to work out. Because Lawrence will be hungry to land that shot and will be keeping that distance, which he can keep very well. But Isaac will also be using his tricks and skills to be where he needs to be to do what he needs to do.

“Again it’s going to be who’s going to be able to execute it more. Because it’s not like they’re both short brawlers who are going to meet in the middle. It’ll be interesting to see who can execute what they’ve been practising.”