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SOUL OF SPORT: Lawrence Okolie successfully defended his WBO cruiserweight title against David Light

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SOUL OF SPORT: Lawrence Okolie successfully defended his WBO cruiserweight title against David Light on Saturday on a packed evening of boxing … KEVIN QUIGLEY captures all the emotions and drama from the AO Arena in Manchester in pictures

  • Every week on a Monday, our Soul of Sport series will take readers behind the scenes at top sporting events 
  • Kevin Quigley was in Manchester to watch Lawrence Okolie defend his WBO cruiserweight world title 
  • His photographs capture all the emotion, ecstasy and heartache that boxers experience pre and post fight

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Welcome back to the Soul of Sport. In the fifth episode of the series, KEVIN QUIGLEY travelled to Manchester to watch Lawrence Okolie, newly signed to Boxxer after splitting from Eddie Hearn, successfully defend his WBO cruiserweight world title against David Light at the AO Arena on Saturday.

At a packed house, a night of boxing drama ensued as there was also a full undercard with fellow Brits Frazer Clarke and Frankie Stringer among those to be in action. 

There was significant excitement, anguish and elation as the often brutal nature of life as a professional boxer was captured in several behind-the-scenes shots from warm-ups, to fight time and the aftermath. Our man used a Nikon Z9 camera and 24-70mm, 14-24mm and 400m lenses to capture the action.

Veteran Polish middleweight boxer Robert Talarek looks battered and bruised after his defeat by Shakiel Thompson

Veteran Polish middleweight boxer Robert Talarek looks to recover after his defeat by Shakiel Thompson in a bruising bout 

Fans at Manchester's AO Arena mill about in the concourse areas as police watch on ahead of the action getting underway

Fans at Manchester’s AO Arena mill about in the concourse areas as police watch on ahead of the action getting underway

World cruiserweight champion Lawrence Okolie ahead of the third defence of his title against David Light of New Zealand

World cruiserweight champion Lawrence Okolie ahead of the third defence of his title against David Light of New Zealand

Supporters dressed in fancy dress get in the mood for a packed night of boxing as the atmosphere ramps up at the AO Arena

Supporters dressed in fancy dress get in the mood for a packed night of boxing as the atmosphere ramps up at the AO Arena

Okolie goes through his final paces, with the fighter having an 18-0 record heading into his bout with Light on Saturday

Okolie goes through his final paces, with the fighter having an 18-0 record heading into his bout with Light on Saturday

Brian Phillips of Liverpool (centre) gets his hands wrapped ahead of his fight with Rhys Edwards, with Phillips losing the bout

Brian Phillips of Liverpool (centre) gets his hands wrapped ahead of his fight with Rhys Edwards, with Phillips losing the bout

World champion Natasha Jones has her make-up done ahead of helping to present Saturday night's coverage on Sky Sports

World champion Natasha Jones has her make-up done ahead of helping to present Saturday night’s coverage on Sky Sports

Supporters wearing sombrero hats chant and get involved with the action that saw several fights lined up on the card

Supporters wearing sombrero hats chant and get involved with the action that saw several fights lined up on the card

Frazer Clarke prepares to lace up his Nike boots ahead of his bout, with his tattoo of Del Boy still visible above his left sock

Frazer Clarke prepares to lace up his Nike boots ahead of his bout, with his tattoo of Del Boy still visible above his left sock

Supporters celebrate on a night Okolie returned to the ring to defend his world title after more than a year out of the sport

Supporters celebrate on a night Okolie returned to the ring to defend his world title after more than a year out of the sport

A busy undercard dressing room containing male and female fighters. Michael Gomes Jnr (C) is waiting for the call to go out

A busy undercard dressing room containing male and female fighters. Michael Gomes Jnr (C) is waiting for the call to go out

A bucket full of ice is prepared in anticipation to help boxers in their recoveries after very intense bouts on Saturday evening

A bucket full of ice is prepared in anticipation to help boxers in their recoveries after very intense bouts on Saturday evening

Okolie had previously defended his world cruiserweight title against Dilan Prasovic  in 2021 and then Michał Cieslak in 2022

Okolie had previously defended his world cruiserweight title against Dilan Prasovic  in 2021 and then Michał Cieslak in 2022

Frankie Stringer is close to tears after being overcome with emotion following his win over Jakub Laskowski on Saturday

Frankie Stringer is close to tears after being overcome with emotion following his win over Jakub Laskowski on Saturday

Former British olympian Frazer Clarke smiles after his resounding win over Bogdan Dinu - who retired after the second round

Former British olympian Frazer Clarke smiles after his resounding win over Bogdan Dinu – who retired after the second round

Okolie's WBO cruiserweight title propped up next to the fighter's book which is about his journey to professional boxing

Okolie’s WBO cruiserweight title propped up next to the fighter’s book which is about his journey to professional boxing

Okolie won the fight against Light by unanimous decision, with the three judges scoring the bout at 116-112, 119-108, 117-110

Okolie won the fight against Light by unanimous decision, with the three judges scoring the bout at 116-112, 119-108, 117-110

A long-distance shot of Okolie punching Light with the New Zealander showing incredible resilience throughout the fight

A long-distance shot of Okolie punching Light with the New Zealander showing incredible resilience throughout the fight

Okolie, who has signed for Boxxer, relaxes after retaining his world title belt following a solid display at the AO Arena

Okolie, who has signed for Boxxer, relaxes after retaining his world title belt following a solid display at the AO Arena

Talarek's wounds are revealed in full after his battering by Thompson, showing the extremely tough realities of life as a boxer

Talarek’s wounds are revealed in full after his battering by Thompson, showing the extremely tough realities of life as a boxer