From living on the streets of Lagos, begging for food to survive, Mikael Lawal’s incredible journey in boxing continues to captivate fight fans as he further cemented his credentials as one of the top fighters in the UK Cruiserweight division after he emerged victorious as the Ultimate Boxxer IV Golden Robe winner at the Altrincham Ice Arena.
Live on BT Sport, and in front of a sold-out crowd, the MansionBet pre-tournament favourite Lawal did not disappoint and ended the challenge of hometown-boy Damian Chambers with a sickening left-hand in the first-round of the final, following an explosive night of boxing, in front of a watching Paulie Malignaggi, Anthony Crolla and Dave Coldwell.
An emotional-Lawal spoke to the assembled media after his incredible victory.
‘I still can’t believe it, even when I knew they’d made the favourite before, I knew I had to keep it together, one job at a time. The win puts my name out there, and a lot of people are going to be looking out for me. It’s so emotional for me, it’s been a hard journey – it’s hard to balance work and training, but then this is the reward. I’ve come a long way, I’m so happy, but there’s so much more to come,’ said Lawal, who also thanked Team Sauerland and Phenom Boxing.
Despite the torrential rain, fans flocked to the intimate venue and, following an entertaining undercard, witnessed Lawal dispatch the awkward Antony Woolery in his quarter-final, before seeing off the battle-ready Scotsman David Jamieson who had himself scrapped past Dan Cooper in a tight affair.
Waiting in the final for the 23-year-old, Sauerland fighter Lawal was the irresistible challenge of Chambers, after he had flattened Matt Sen in his opening clash. However, the Manchester protégé of Matthew Hatton certainly did not have it all his own way in last-four encounter, with youngster Rhasian Earlington refusing to yield despite a first-round knockdown courtesy of a powerful right hand. Earlington – who had to crowdfund funds for a brain scan last month – had dropped former European Champion Tony Conquest inside a round in his first fight of the night to set-up the clash with Chambers.
The 21-year-old, stormed back into the contest in the second round, going hard to the body of Chambers and finding his opponent’s face with regularity too, opening up a cut under his left eye in what was three minutes of ferocious action. Chambers, wobbled, straightened, but crucially was not knocked down in what BT Sport analyst Steve Bunce described as ‘the best round of boxing we’ve seen so far in all four Ultimate Boxxer tournaments.’
Chambers’ ability to retain his composure under the instructions of cornerman Hatton proved to be vital when it came to the judges’ scores after what was – by the standards of what had come before – a slightly more sedate third round. The 30-year-old was awarded the victory on a unanimous decision, but after the most physically-intense contest of the night, he was in a race against time to recover before Lawal would emerge, snarling from his dressing room.
The crowd showed their backing for Chambers with vociferous vocal support at what was a highly, charged, atmospheric occasion, but Lawal blocked out the noise and went to work. And after trading shots early on, the Lagos-born Lawal sent Chambers plummeting to the canvas with a huge left hand in the first. The gruelling semi-final had clearly taken its toll on Chambers, with Lawal much the fresher of the two, and that punch ended the contest. Lawal was crowned the Ultimate Boxxer IV champion and moved a few rungs further up the division ladder with his record now standing at 12 wins from 12 fights, and a Catax-sponsored cheque for a cool £16,000 in the bank.