Skip to content

Chris Billam-Smith: Lawrence Okolie is not used to getting hit - for him panic will set in on Saturday night

Chris Billam-Smith reveals Lawrence Okolie has a rematch clause for their WBO title fight, but he isn't convinced his rival will want to use it after his punch power gives Okolie "the biggest shock"; plus he discusses the state of their friendship and not inviting Okolie to his wedding

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Harry Redknapp says he's backing local Bournemouth boy Chris Billam-Smith in his WBO cruiserweight bout with Lawrence Okolie at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday

Lawrence Okolie has a rematch clause for Saturday's WBO cruiserweight title defence, but Chris Billam-Smith isn't convinced his opponent will want to use it after their fight at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth.

Billam-Smith believes his own under-appreciated punch power will be "the biggest shock" to Okolie.

A hometown hero in Bournemouth, Billam-Smith has been working with a new strength and conditioning coach since the end of last year - as well as top trainer Shane McGuigan, who is also Okolie's former coach.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Cruiserweight Chris Billam-Smith gives Sky Sports' Nik Hobbs a tour around his seaside home town of Bournemouth, where his WBO world title fight with Lawrence Okolie will take place on Saturday

He is promising to deliver something Okolie hasn't experienced before when they fight, live on Sky Sports this Saturday.

Billam-Smith maintains the blistering knockout finish he secured in his last fight should be a warning sign for Okolie.

"Lawrence is obviously a very big one-punch puncher, but if you look at my last fight it shows that I can punch," Billam-Smith told Sky Sports.

"He might think this is just me saying it. But he's also not used to getting hit so it's almost like a double effect. Once you get hit and you know how to deal with that, panic doesn't set in. I think for him panic will set in on Saturday night.

Also See:

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Boxxer CEO Ben Shalom says Lawrence Okolie's new, more aggressive style could work in the favour of opponent Chris Billam-Smith

"Any fight against Lawrence is dangerous because he can punch and he's got long levers so you have to take educated risks and you've got to really work hard to get the shots off you need to do. That's what we've been doing the whole time."

He added: "I don't expect him to stand there and trade with me. He knows he can't do that. I imagine he's going to be trying to keep it long and move his feet.

"The hard thing with Lawrence is getting in position. So we know what we've got to do."

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Sky Sport's Johnny Nelson believes Chris Billam-Smith can rise to the occasion as Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium will expand its capacity to 15,000 for his cruiserweight clash with Lawrence Okolie

They sparred hundreds of rounds together when they were gym-mates, but Billam-Smith is adamant that Okolie can't take too much from that past experience.

"It's going to be very different than 16 or 18 ounce gloves to 10 ounce [competition] gloves," he said.

"He never buzzed me with 18 ounce gloves on but you've got a head guard and 18 ounce gloves on. It's not like [I can think] 'he never buzzed me so I can just go in there and take his shots'.

"I've got to stay concentrated. It's not just going in there, just going hell for leather. That's not how this game works at the top level. It's got to be concentration the whole time and focus. That's how the job will get done."

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Ahead of this weekend's WBO cruiserweight clash between Lawrence Okolie and Chris Billam-Smith, check out some of the best British world title fights to have taken place on Sky Sports

Their past means they do have history. But any friendship between them is on hold at least until after the fight.

There have already been jibes from Okolie saying that Billam-Smith was always McGuigan's "favourite" in the gym and he also pointed out that he never got an invitation to Billam-Smith's wedding.

"There was a lot of people on the list before Lawrence," Billam-Smith said bluntly of 'wedding-gate,' adding, "I was in the gym longest. I think that's why I was Shane's favourite."

That unusual pre-fight tension adds to the occasion for Billam-Smith.

"It's got all the ingredients to be a really special night. Everything from it being two Brits for a world title, for me being in the stadium. But also being old gym-mates, old trainer etc. There's a real story to it for me and I just thrive off of that and let that fuel me," he said.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Lawrence Okolie says his motivation isn't to get one over former coach Shane McGuigan and team-mate Chris Billam-Smith, he just wants to win

"It's been a really enjoyable build up, for myself anyway and I think the fans have enjoyed it as well. It's very easy to get caught up in fake beef in this industry. The 'beef' you see between us is real. Anything I've said is either a tongue in cheek comment or has got a base of truth in it. I'm never just slagging him off for the sake of it. Whereas that happens a lot in this sport.

"I think we'll shake hands after the fight. Hopefully he'll be in an okay mood even though he's been beat."

Winning could mean Billam-Smith would have to fight him all over again. "He asked for a rematch clause. He's got a rematch clause. We'll see if he wants it after Saturday night," he revealed.

Live Fight Night

"He might blame the weight, he might want to go up to heavyweight. I think he's a competitive guy. I think he'll want the rematch."

This fight though will be the defining moment for Billam-Smith.

"It's going to be near on impossible to top this in my career, winning on Saturday night," he said.

"I'm leaving absolutely everything in the ring."

Don't miss Lawrence Okolie vs Chris Billam-Smith live on Sky Sports Action and Sky Showcase from 7pm on Saturday night.

Around Sky