It’s a huge night for UK & Irish boxing with as many as four world championship bouts taking place over the evening. Here, we’ve previewed Lawrence Okolie vs Chris Billam-Smith for the WBO Cruiser weight title and given you our suggested bets.
Okolie vs Billam-Smith Predictions
- Will the fight go the distance? – No – 4/7
- Lawrence Okolie to win by Ko, Tko Or Disqualification – 4/5
Pretty much every fight preview nowadays starts with ‘These two really don’t like each other’ or ‘These two have history’ and while the latter is certainly true, the former couldn’t be further from the truth.
Lawrence Okolie (19-0-0 (14KO)) and Chris Billam-Smith (17-1-0 (12KO)) are famously former training partners and friends.
Under the stewardship of Shane McGuigan, the two sparred over 300 rounds together, until Okolie split with the trainer and decided to team up with Tyson Fury’s corner man SugarHill Steward.
Now they will leave that past friendship outside the ring, as they do battle for Okolie’s WBO Cruiser strap, that he has held since 2021.
‘The Sauce’ fought as recently as 25 March, in an absolute snoozefest against New Zealander David Light.
Meanwhile, ‘The Gentleman’ has held the British, Commonwealth and European (now vacated) titles at Cruiser weight and this is his first tilt at a world title, in front of his hometown crowd in Bournemouth.
Where and when is the fight taking place?
The fight is happening at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, on Saturday, May 27th and will be broadcast live and exclusively on Sky Sports in the UK. The event is a Ben Shalom promotion for BOXXER. The show will start at around 7pm, with the main ring walk taking place at around 10.00pm.
What does the full fight card look like?
- MAIN EVENT: Lawrence Okolie vs Chris Billam-Smith – WBO Cruiserweight title
- Lee Cutler vs Stanley Stannard
- Michael McKinson vs Lebin Morales
- Tommy Welch vs Amine Boucetta
- Mace Ruegg vs Dean Dodge
- Lewis Edmondson vs Petar Nosic
- Alireza Ghadiri vs Jonatas Rodrigo Gomes de Oliveira
- Sam Eggington vs Joe Pigford
- Karriss Artingstall vs Jade Taylor
- Isaac Chamberlain vs TBA
(subject to change)
Who’s the favourite?
Okolie is the 1/4 favourite for this domestic dust up, with Billam-Smith the outsider at 3/1. If you fancy the two old sparring partners to nullify each other, then the draw is available at 20/1.
What’s been said?
“It’s obviously one that I wanted myself (with the quick nine week turnaround).
I’m extremely confident, I’m in great condition, I’m a great athlete, great boxer and I believe I can knock him out.
I love (Chris) as a person but I’m here to make a statement. It’s almost unfortunate as I like Chris, but I have to do what I have to do.”
“I got to see the (Vitality) Stadium yesterday and it put a huge smith on my face.
I’ve been visualising this and planning for this for many years.
There can’t be any more pressure on me for the rest of my career than Saturday night.
It’s a world title shot, it’s at home and the whole show is built around me.
I like Lawrence, he’s a funny guy but he’s got something I want, it’s business.”
Will the fight go the distance? – No – 4/7
I’ve seen a lot of fight previews predicting that these two fighters know each other inside out, having shared so much time together in the ring, which will lead to a tactical points decision.
I’m afraid I don’t buy that one bit. Sparring is just that – sparring and means very little in the grand scale of things.
When you get the smaller gloves on, no head guards or trainers stepping in when it gets a bit tasty, it’s a whole different affair.
Both men have excellent knock out records and I don’t expect this one to see the end of the 12th round.
Lawrence Okolie to win by Ko, Tko Or Disqualification – 4/5
Okolie has faced accusations of being a boring fighter who likes to grab hold and frustrate his opponent but Billam-Smith has been in some wars and simply won’t let him do that.
The Bournemouth man was badly hurt at times in his last fight against Armend Xhoxhaj, who certainly doesn’t hit as hard as Lawrence Okolie.
I think this one will be a cagey affair for the first half of the fight before Billam-Smith gets energised by the crowd and walks onto a straight right from the Champion.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Okolie is more than beatable but I’m not sure CBS is the man to do it on Saturday night.
Enjoy the fight and good luck!
*All prices correct at the time of writing.