Chris Billam-Smith says he will be looking to hit Lawrence Okolie often as he tries to prise the WBO cruiserweight title from his former training partner in the “perfect fight” in Bournemouth.
Billam-Smith will be competing in his home town when the Vitality Stadium hosts the all-English clash live on Sky Sports on Saturday May 27.
The unbeaten Okolie used to train in Shane McGuigan’s gym alongside Billam-Smith but is now working under SugarHill Steward.
Billam-Smith told Sky Sports News: “It’s the perfect fight. I have always wanted to win a world title at the Vitality and this is a perfect opportunity against someone I know well. I think we’ve done about 300 rounds.
“I am excited. I think it is a great fight for the sport. It didn’t take long to make once it got offered – it was probably signed within a week.
“The dream for any fighter is to be world champion and to do it at the stage I’ve got, the opportunity I’ve got, is a dream come true. It’s down to me to fulfil my dream. Everyone else has done their part.”
‘I am expecting a good version of Lawrence’
Billam-Smith was last in action in December 2022, recording a fifth-round knockout of Armend Xhoxhaj, but Okolie boxed as recently as March when he outpointed New Zealander David Light to retain his cruiserweight title in his first fight in over a year.
Billam-Smith expects back-to-back training camps to aid Okolie but feels he can enjoy success if he is able to land frequent punches on his former stablemate.
The 32-year-old said: “I can’t give too much away but the task for anyone is landing on Lawrence. Once you get landing on him he’s good at tying you up so you’ve just got to hit him. Hit him often.
“No one has really done that. Maybe caught him with a little shot here and there. That’s the game plan to hit him and hit him often.
“He has fought more recently than I have but had time out before then. He has had back-to-back camps, no time out, which probably benefits him so I am expecting a good version of Lawrence. He has shaken the ring rust off and had the second camp to settle in.”
Asked whether the pair will still be friends after next weekend’s fight, Billam-Smith said: “I can’t see why not, from my point, yes. But it will be his first loss so it depends how he takes it!”
Watch Chris Billam-Smith challenge Lawrence Okolie for the WBO cruiserweight title on Saturday May 27. Coverage of the night begins at 7pm on Sky Sports Action.