Lawrence eyes tae kwon do world title
JAMAICA's Ackeem Lawrence's is hoping his US Open Night of Champions victory over Canada's Maxime Bujold will be his springboard to an International Taekwon-Do Federation world title - either at October's World Cup in Budapest, Hungary or next year's World Championships in Dublin, Ireland.
Lawrence reached the third round of the last two World Championships, Spain 2013 and Italy 2015.
In 2014, he was stopped in the semi-finals of the World Cup in Montego Bay by none other than Bujold, who went on to beat another Jamaican, Alrick Wanliss, in the final.
Montego Bay 2014 was Bujold's third World Cup win, in addition to a World Championship crown in Quebec 2007, plus numerous titles in patterns.
Using his convincing victory over the Canadian in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday as a marker, Lawrence said he is ready to tackle the best microweights the world has to throw at him - despite an increase in the minimum weight allowed at the World Champs since Spain 2013.
"It's now 126lb, so it allows taller athletes to compete, as opposed to 119lb, so you actually have tall lightweights stepping down to microweight. Having taller athletes in the division, they have more reach," he explained.
"The competition has got that much harder, so shorter athletes, like me, have to be on top of our game, searching for creative ways to score points," said the five feet eight inches fighter.
Each country is allowed two fighters per division at the World Champs, making Lawrence and beanpole Donald 'Delano' Francis, World Cup 2014 junior black belt champion, Jamaica's sure picks.
"Unless Alrick comes out of retirement, it should be Delano and me. If he does, it will be a battle among us three," he said.
"This victory showed me I can win. Going up against Maxime proved Jamaicans can be the best in any weight category. Having a chance to compete in Budapest and Dublin will show that Jamaica is a premier in world martial arts," he added.